By MICHAEL LETENDRE
WATERBURY – Fueled by a successful end to the regular season, the seventh and eighth grade boys basketball team from St. Joseph School were not going to be denied the league championship this year.
In fact, the Panthers went a perfect 3-0 in postseason play and won the 2015 Waterbury Parochial League Championship on Wednesday, March 18 from Kennedy High School in Waterbury.
The Panthers picked up the title over third seeded St. Mary’s of Waterbury by a 38-35 final.
The fifth seed in the tournament got scoring contributions from several players and everyone contributed in the winning endeavor.
Christian Peterson led the way with a slick double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Rudy Otero just missed a double-double of his own with eight points and a sterling nine assists while teammate Connor Lozito added five key points – four of which came over the deciding fourth quarter.
St. Joe’s got some spirited play up and down the line-up which was critical over the winning effort.
Luke Hines locked down St Mary’s best outside shooter while Matt Doran had four big rebounds and four points.
Ben Chiasson also played well while Nick Ruffino drilled a critical corner jumper.
Chiasson, Ruffino and Dylan Gagnon each added two points in the championship tilt.
The road to the championship wasn’t easy for the Bristol squad as the Panthers squared off against the fourth seed Blessed Sacrament from Holy Cross High School in Waterbury.
St. Joe’s went winless against Sacrament over the past half decade but the Panthers were determined to change that recent history.
In that first round tilt, St. Joe’s was victorious in a double overtime affair by a 61-54 final.
A big rebound and put back by Chiasson as time expired that tied the game at the end of regulation saved the Panthers season.
Lozito paced SJS with 17 points – including a 5-for-6 showing at the free throw line in overtime. Otero drilled in 16 points; Chiasson pumped in 12; Peterson had nine; Gagnon added five points; and Ruffino chipped in two points and a key assist.
Next up was a second round date from Kennedy High School as St. Joe’s snuck past St. Brigid of Cheshire 47-46 at the buzzer to advance to the title game.
Peterson led the charge with 16 points; Otero nabbed 12; and Lozito flipped in 11 to lead the victors. Chiasson contributed six and eight rebounds while Gagnon added two points to fuel the Panthers.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE