The Staples boys basketball team shook off a tough start, erased a 14-point deficit to building a commanding lead and then held on for a 64-61 win over visiting Trumbull in the season finale for both teams on Wednesday night.
The Wreckers finished the campaign with a record of 5-15 and the Eagles finished at 8-12. Despite missing the playoffs, the Wreckers note that there were some positives to be found in the season.
"You couldn't have asked for a more fun season with the coaching staff and the players; a great group of guys," Katz said. "We've had some tough breaks with injuries and games that got away from us."
Trumbull began the game on a 20-6 run and closed it out with a 30-point, fourth-quarter outburst. The Wreckers overcame the strong start and finish by the Eagles, as well as 11 shots from downtown -- including six by Matt Turner -- to end things on a high note.
Staples trailed only 22-20 at halftime and took the lead early in the third quarter when Katz drained a triple. The Wreckers began the second half on a 19-2 run and had a 33-4 run through parts of the second and third periods to seize control.
Staples Coach Colin Devine thought Senior Night jitters got the best of his team and caused a proverbial lid-on-the-basket situation for his team early on. Then the Wreckers caught fire.
Staples scored 44 points in the second half. Katz was red-hot throughout most of the night, hitting shots from all over the court. He had eight of his team's first ten points to begin the second half, then drove to the basket and dished to Todd Goldstein (eight points) for an easy bucket and a 32-24 advantage.
A baseline bank shot by Katz made it a 10-point game, then Melnick came up with a steal and layup for a 36-24 lead. The Wreckers led 42-29 heading into the fourth.
Trumbull climbed back into the game and pulled to within 44-38 on an Eddie McElroy 3-pointer. The teams traded hoops and Andrew Felman converted a big 3-point play to make it 52-38 Wreckers with 4:31 remaining.
The Eagles went on a 12-4 run and trailed only 56-50 with 2:23 left in the game. Down 60-52, the Eagles made it a five-point game when Turner hit a 3-pointer with 1:06 showing on the scoreboard. Katz and Melnick both were clutch in final-minute one-and-one free throw shooting situations, combining to go 4-for-4 from the line.
The Eagles were down six when Rashard Rodriguez hit a 3 just before the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Devine noted that the most notable injury involved Felman and that some illness also knocked players out of the lineup during the course of the campaign.
Seniors Katz, Goldstein, Wiggins, and Felman will leave big shoes to fill.
"The seniors were a great group. They kept everybody together with leadership," said Devine, adding that this was the type of contest that might have otherwise gotten away from a squad. "It's a great group; I'm going to miss them. I wish them all the best in their careers."