Four days after falling short in the FCIAC finals, the emotional scars were still fresh for the Trinity Catholic boys basketball team as it took the court for its CIAC Class L first round game against Ludlowe.
Nothing like a lopsided victory to help in the healing process.
Junior Jason Boswell scored 20 points, junior Kevin Lemeune had 14 points and sophomore Tremaine Frasier came off the bench to add 13 as No. 7 seed Trinity Catholic cruised past No. 26 Ludlowe 69-43 Monday night.
The Falcons (9-12) hung tough against the physically superior Crusaders -- that is until hot-shooting Trinity Catholic (18-6) ended the first half on a 10-0 run to take a 35-19 lead into the intermission.
Trinity's double-digit cushion was never in doubt in the second half, as the host scored six of the third quarter's first eight points and rolled from there.
It was just the kind of confidence-boosting win needed by the Crusaders, who connected on five 3-pointers.
"We feed off each other and when we're hitting our 3-pointers it forces defenses to come out on the perimeter which opens things up inside," said junior point guard Schadrac Casimir, who finished with eight points.
"We still haven't gotten over (a 62-48 loss to Bassick in the FCIAC title game), so it was good that we came out with fire and put them away. We can't get too excited though, there's bigger games ahead."
So after dispatching one FCIAC foe, the defending state champions (Trinity Catholic won the M division last year) will face another league opponent they defeated by double digit during the regular season.
Next up is a second-round matchup against No. 23 Wilton -- which knocked off No. 10 University 70-63 -- on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
"It's a long, tough road back to Mohegan Sun," Crusaders coach Mike Walsh said. "We dragged through practice the last few days, so I wasn't sure what to expect when we took the court tonight. Fortuntely we hit some outside shots early on to get us going, and we were able to score on second shots and cutbacks. Brian (Silvestro) does a great job with that program though. Ludlowe played hard the whole way."
Justin Berardino had three treys en route to a team-high 12 points for the Falcons, while fellow senior guard Mark Cerulli finished with seven points. Seniors David Kinsley and Tyler Bulkley had six points apiece in their final game for Ludlowe, which kept close in the first half thanks to a patient offense which produced several lay-ups off back-door cuts.
But baskets weren't easy to come by -- not with the Crusaders' imposing 7-foot-1 sophomore center Paschal Chukwu clogging the middle of the lane. Chukwu had six points and altered just as many shots.
The lead had swelled to over 20 in the fourth quarter when it turned into showtime for the Crusaders.
First came an alley-oop pass from Casimir to Aaron Spence, and moments later the crowd was buzzing again and an exclamation point was put on the victory when Chukwu dunked on a lob pass from Frasier.
"We had fun out there tonight," Boswell said. "It was a painful loss on Thursday, and the only thing we can do now is put it behind us and use it as motivation. We'd love to see Bassick again, but we need to take it one game at a time. This was a great start."