Boys Basketball East Catholic Tops Notre Dame

By Nate Zielinski

MANCHESTER – With the season on the line, East Catholic was in desperate need of a senior moment. Enter senior guard Mark Carbonbe.

Carbone, who is headed off to play at the University of San Diego next season, led a fourth quarter rally to propel the No 4 seeded Eagles to a 67-59 victory over No. 5 Notre Dame-West Haven in a Class L boys basketball tournament state tournament game, Friday night in Manchester.

 

Carbone finished the game with 25 points and guided East Catholic through the most difficult stretch of the game with poise and precision. Notre Dame-West Haven took the lead at the end of the third quarter, but Carbone hit three consecutive three-point jump shots to give the Eagles the lead for good.

The game was a close defensive battle in the first half with the Eagles taking a 22-19 lead in the locker room.  Both teams let it fly in the second half with their season on the line, and the result was entertaining second half in which the Eagles put up 45 points to pull away late.

Carbone was not the only hero for East Catholic, as numerous players stepped up in the big game for East Catholic.  Freshman Joey Reilly was accurate from long-range and tallied 11 points.  Junior Mike McGuirl played extremely well on both ends of the floor and finished with 18 points, including two breakaway dunks. His second dunk came with East Catholic up one point after McGuirl stepped into a passing lane and swiftly got to the other end of the floor for an easy dunk.

Carbone, Reilly and McGuirl made all of their free throws with under a minute to play in the game and were key to East Catholic icing the game.

“The guys worked really hard all year, they have adopted the culture of this program and they are sacrificing and fighting for the guy next to them and magic is happening because of it,” said East Catholic head coach Luke Reilly after the game.

Notre Dame-West Haven gave a great effort Friday night as well.  Playing against a perennial powerhouse on the road is never easy, and the Green Knights were a few plays away from stealing this game.

Junior Jalanni White was a monster on the offensive glass and was able to score inside all night with his athleticism. White finished the game with 12, but their leading scorer was Ben Bagnoli with 17.  Bagnoli had a big fourth quarter, including a three pointer to cut the lead to one for East Catholic at 58-57.  After this, McGuirl made his highlight reel play and the Eagles seized control of the game down the stretch and advanced to the semifinals.

East Catholic advances to the final four of the Class L tournament, where they will take on the winner of Windsor vs. Bassick tomorrow night.  Windsor is 22-1 on the season and is the number one seed in the tournament. The other three top seeded teams have already advanced to the semifinals, as the 2 seeded Newington takes on the 3 seed Middletown in the other half of the bracket.

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