Boys Basketball Class LL Championship
Hillhouse 94, Weaver 83 (2OT)
By Ned Griffen
Special to CIACsports.com
UNCASVILLE, Conn — Bryon Breland III scored 15 of his 23 points in overtime as third-seeded Hillhouse of New Haven beat Weaver of Hartford in double overtime, 94-83, to win the CIAC Class LL boys’ basketball championship.
The Academics (25-3) have won a CIAC boys’ basketball record 23 titles.
The final became a battle of attrition as the teams combined for 72 fouls and 103 free throws. The Beavers had five players foul out, Hillhouse three.
Sunday was vastly different than the team’s first meeting — Weaver beat Hillhouse, 77-55, on Dec. 29.
“A dogfight,” Academics head coach Renard Sutton said about the final. “Last time we played them, it looked like Davey and Goliath. Tonight it was Goliath and Goliath. And because of the overtimes, it was like we were playing rock-scissors-paper out there. And those guys, they held court and they’re bringing it home for New Haven.”
It was just the sixth overtime in CIAC boys’ basketball finals history. It was also the second time in four seasons that Weaver lost a state final in double overtime.
“The guys at the end of their bench were better than the guys at the end of my bench,” Beavers head coach Reggie Hatchett. “That’s why they ran away like they did in the second overtime. After KeAndre (Fair) fouled out (in the first overtime), basically every guy I had left was a JV-level ball-handler and they exploited that.”
Joseph Kasperzyk Jr. had a game-high 26 points, six steals and four assists for Hillhouse. Jalil Wilkerson added 15 points.
Fair had 24 points and Jaecee Martin added 11 points and five rebounds for the Beavers (23-4), who petitioned to move up to LL after winning Class M last season.
The Academics won the game at the free throw line as they made 49 of 66 (as compared to their 36 field goal attempts).
The Beavers made 23 of 37 free throws.
Hillhouse led by as much as 42-27 with over two minutes left in the third quarter, but Weaver stormed back. Fair made two free throws with a second left in regulation to tie the game at 62.
Fair’s three-point play put the Beavers ahead, 69-64, with 2:28 left in the first overtime.
The Academics came back with Breland making two free throws with 8 seconds remaining to force a second overtime.
Breland made 11 of his 12 free throws in overtime.
“I told him the first half, he didn’t even show up,” Sutton said. “When Joey (Kasperzyk) fouled out and Chris (Adams) fouled out, he was the last one of the big three. Even though he’s a 10th grader, he stepped up like a pure veteran tonight.”
Breland began the second overtime with a layup off the tipoff. Chauness Johnson followed with his own layup to push Hillhouse ahead, 77-73.
“We’ve been through this a lot,” Breland said. “The last Fairfield Prep game (the Southern Connecticut Conference final), we thought we were out and we came back (from an 18-point deficit before losing, 66-63).
“I was thinking to myself that we have to stay focus because we can always come back and win this. Let’s go.”