By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Maybe 1991 might not seem that long ago for some but for St. Paul boys basketball coach Steve Phelps, it’s the year that started it all for the long time mentor.
That was the season Phelps took over the program as head coach and he’s been there ever since.
But from that first victory during the 1991-92 campaign to his latest, a significant milestone was achieved by Phelps on Monday, Jan. 14.
Phelps picked up his 200th career win for the Falcons as St. Paul turned away pesky Derby 72-65 in a Naugatuck Valley League, Brass Division game played from the Maltby Street Gymnasium.
Tyler Jones recorded 21 points and four assists to lead St. Paul while Jake Kawiecki added five points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Brendan Carroll scored also scored 11 points in the winning effort.
Austin Morin and DeJuan Rodriguez zipped in seven points apiece while Reid Morin chipped in with six.
Esaias Haynes tallied five points while Nick Villani punched home four for the surging Falcons.
It was a significant win for St. Paul as the squad posted two straight victories after a tough 80-57 defeat at the hands of Crosby the previous week.
It wasn’t an easy game as Derby’s Eric Hicks zipped home a game high 26 points, hitting several big three-pointers – seven in all – while Tyrae Small was also clutch with 20 points for the Raiders.
Thanks in part to the Raiders long range shooting, the squad was never truly out of the game.
Twelve three-pointers showed Derby’s proficiency from downtown but after just one quarter of play, St. Paul led 13-10.
The Falcons lit up the scoreboard in the second quarter, outscoring Derby 19-13, to tally up a 32-22 edge at the half.
Derby hung around over the final eight minutes of play and nailed in 23 points in the stanza.
But in the end, St. Paul’s lead held as the home team came away with an important 72-65 victory for win number three on the campaign.
And then on Friday, Jan. 17, St. Paul went for win number 201 for Phelps and accomplished that with a huge 58-57 victory over Naugatuck from the Maltby Street Gymnasium in Bristol.
In the end, with the score tied up at 57-all, Rodriguez sank a late free throw with under a second remaining to secure the game and the win.
Rodriguez corralled eight rebounds in the winning effort.