Bassick hangs on against city rival
For the second game in a row, the Bassick boys basketball team stumbled across the finish line with an empty gas tank.
This time, the Lions did it with a lead that was big enough to break their fall.
Bridgeport Central used an 13-0 run late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s city showdown to turn what looked like a Bassick blowout into a mere six-point deficit.
But Bassick’s Anthony Brown went 3-for-4 at the foul line over the final 28 seconds and the defending FCIAC-champion Lions held on for a wild 88-82 victory at a raucous Bassick High gymnasium.
Central’s Yasaar Abdul led all players with 23 points while Bassick’s Marlo Macklin poured in a team-high 18 points off the bench in a fast-paced game that featured six scoring runs of nine points or more, nine players hitting double figures and very little in the way of defense. In all, 17 different players scored and seven connected from 3-point range.
“Any time you have an inner-city game, you’re going to get something like this,” said Bassick assistant coach Bernie Lofton, filling in for an under-the-weather Harrison Taylor. “When we get together, throw records out the door and throw who’s there and who’s not there out the door. An inner-city game is usually a war.”
The Lions came away with a win they needed badly to keep pace with the FCIAC leaders, but Lofton would have liked to have seen his team finish it the right way after getting outscored 20-3 in the fourth quarter of a home loss against 10th-ranked and undefeated Ridgefield on Friday.
Bassick, which improved to 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the FCIAC, used a 10-0 run to take a 54-42 lead in the third quarter and held a 19-point advantage when Central came storming back to make things interesting.
Bassick led 88-70 before Tyler Ancrum (10 points, four assists, four rebounds) sank his game-high second 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We got sloppy down the stretch. We just didn’t take care of the ball,” Lofton said. “The kids don’t understand that you have to practice finishing games in these types of games.”
Bassick did a better job of maintaining its poise in a gym filled with emotion and excitement. Central used a 17-3 run to take a 35-34 lead, but the Lions countered with baskets from Kobe Ancrum and Coleman (nine points, seven rebounds) to make it 38-35 and never trailed after that.
“We have kids that are neighbors and kids that are cousins playing on different teams,” Lofton said. “Tyler and Kobe Ancrum live in the same house. When you have this type of a game, it’s very hard to coach. But it’s fun.”
An exasperated Central head coach Barry McLeod didn’t quite see it that way. Despite getting five players in double figures and a finishing run that nearly produced a stunning comeback, Central’s veteran head coach was actually mortified with his team’s effort.
“It was an embarrassing exhibition, the worst exhibition I’ve seen in a long time,” McLeod said. “I’m humiliated, and if they’re not humiliated, we have a real big problem. If they can somehow walk out of here with their heads held semi-high, then there’s a real problem.”
Central turned the ball over 10 times in the third quarter, allowing Bassick to go on a 10-0 run with Jerrond Rogers (14 points, six rebounds, three assists) scoring four straight points and Russell Jones converting off a great feed by point guard Devin Coleman (nine points, seven rebounds).
“We made some adjustments against their half-court press that hurt us in the first half,” Lofton said. “We saved our better press for the second half and that helped turn the game around.”
McLeod tried everything in an attempt to stop Bassick’s momentum, making a five-player substitution after calling a timeout before taking a technical foul with 3:39 left. But nothing sparked the Hilltoppers (5-3 overall, 5-3 FCIAC) as Bassick outscored Central 26-14 in the third to take a70-54 lead.
Pashien Young scored seven of his 14 points in the third quarter. The Lions also received 15 points from Kobe Ancrum (four rebounds, two assists) and 10 second-half points from Macklin.
“They were taking kids off the bench who were five or six games into their varsity careers and they were scoring at will,” McLeod said. “That’s ridiculous. There’s no excuse for that. So we’re going to try to find five or six guys who want to play.”
Forward Josh Wilkerson scored 16 points to go along with nine rebounds, two steals and two assists for Central. Guard Kimari Geer (four assists) scored 16 points, including 11 in the second half and Robert Blackwell contributed 11 points with a 5-for-5 effort from the foul line.