By Brandon judeh
A slow, methodical first half gave way to an exciting finish in Warren JFK’s 52-46, come-from-behind victory over Badger on Wednesday night in a Division IV sectional tournament
With 41 seconds remaining and the Eagles (5-18) down by two, John Hilty made perhaps the biggest play of his career.
After rebounding a miss Hilty put the ball up, but it fell short.
“After I missed it the first time I remembered how my coach says to come down with the ball and pump fake before putting it up,” Hilty said.
Hilty did just that as he scored and was fouled. After Hilty made a go-ahead free throw, JFK’s defense stepped up when Dominic Naples caused a turnover and hit two foul shots to put the Eagles up by three.
Badger had a chance to tie it, but Hilty came through again.
The safety on the Eagles football team read a pass and came up with a steal to seal the deal for JFK.
“I felt like I was reading the ball over the middle just like in football,” Hilty said. “Coach [Shawn Pompelia] told us we needed a big steal and I saw the opportunity.”.
“I told the kids at halftime that we needed to speed this game up and take control,” Pompelia said. “I’m proud of these kids and I’m proud of my coaching staff, they have worked their tails off.”
Naples scored 15 points and had six assists for JFK, Hilty scored a game-high 17 and Luke Keck hit two clutch 3-pointers.
Brandon Bates led Badger with 16 points and Matt Kraml had 10.
McDonald dismantled Southington, 77–53, in the night’s other game.
McDonald used a 14-2 run to start the game. Senior Patrick Kunkel led the way early, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the first quarter.
“We spent the whole year building for this and I just wanted to come out and have fun and do my best,” Kunkel said.
McDonald’s full-court pressure and quick offense controlled the game. Matt Seitz led the Blue Devils with 17 points and Stephen Politano had 13. Eric Wilson led Southington with 16 points and Jacob Zolna added 15.
“Early on, Kunkel did a great job of hitting some jump shots, running the fast break and hitting free throws for us,” McDonald coach Jeff Rasile said.