By MICHAEL LETENDRE
The 2015 Bristol Observer Boys Basketball All Tournament Team
Boys First Team
Name/Grade Team Position Tournament Numbers
Daron McKoy, Sr. Eastern Forward 16 points, 5 threes, 4 rebs.
George Taylor III, Sr. Eastern Guard 15 points, 3 threes, 4 assists
Dejuan Rodriguez, Sr. St. Paul Center 12 points, 11 rebs. vs. North
Jamill Hornesby, Fr. Central Guard 22 points, 6 asts. vs. Danbury
Brendan Carroll, Sr. Central Forward 18 points, 6 rebs. vs. North
Runners Up: Troy Micale, St. Paul (2 threes, 6 points vs. Northwestern); Daija Fitzpatrick (13 points at Suffield); Kevin Love, Bristol Eastern (4 points, 9 rebounds); Tyler Arbuckle, Bristol Eastern (10 points, 3 three-pointers); L.J. Johnson, Bristol Central (10 points, 4 rebounds); Jason Severino (7 points, 3 rebounds, 5 steals).
BRISTOL – Once again, the St. Paul boys basketball team advanced past the first round of the Class M postseason tournament while the squad from Bristol Central was stopped at home in the opening contest versus a powerful Class LL foe.
And then there was Bristol Eastern, which was mere minutes away in pulling off an upset against a squad who ended up being the Class L champion.
Again, all three teams had excellent first round showings but only the Falcons were able to pull off the upset, sinking No. 15 Suffield, 47-45, on the road.
The reward for the tough Catholic school was a trip to Winsted and a match-up with second seeded Northwestern.
And even in that contest, St. Paul almost got the job done once again before finally falling by three, 68-65, to end the campaign at a very respectable 14-9.
Two Falcons made the Bristol Observer Boys Basketball All Tournament team as seniors Dejuan Rodriguez and Brendan Carroll were honored.
And for Carroll, the difference between first and second round games was stunning.
No. 18 St. Paul opened play at Suffield and Carroll had a night he’d rather forget, at least offensively.
He tallied just three points in the win – contributing in other ways of course – but earned a little redemption in that contest at Northwestern.
Against the Highlanders, he scorched the squad for 18 points and six rebounds.
His passing was on-point the entire evening and he canned four threes – his last making it a four point game as St. Paul came back from a 14-point deficit to make it a 60-56 game with 2:19 remaining.
For the postseason, Carroll averaged 10.5 points-per-game and certainly showed moxie and poise until the final horn sounded to end his scholastic career in hoop.
The tourney kind of went the same for Rodriguez, on the scoring front anyways, and after a four-point performance at Suffield, he took it to Northwestern in a very physical affair.
The Highlanders watched the senior center from St. Paul score 12 points and snatch 11 rebounds while also tallying a few steals along the way.
His defense was critical against Northwestern and he showed everybody why he’ll be a force on the collegiate level.
His tournament scoring numbers of 8.0 points-per-game don’t show exactly how important his overall contributions were to St. Paul’s tournament run.
A couple other seniors chipped in, making the Bristol Observer second team, as Troy Micale and Dajia Fitzpatrick made critical contributions along the way.
Micale battled a high ankle sprain throughout tournament play but his leadership was a factor in each game.
Those intangibles were just as important as his scoring.
Speaking of scoring, Micale nabbed 5.5 points-per-game over the postseason and his two three-pointers at Northwest helped keep St. Paul hanging around with an outstanding Highlanders squad.
Same with Fitzpatrick and his 11.5 points-per-game in the starting line-up was a critical factor as well.
He canned 13 points in the win against Suffield while he did a little of everything against Northwest.
Fitzpatrick scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds, and had two steals in the three point loss against the Highlanders.
Again, several other players could have factored into the Observer’s second team unit as St. Paul truly played a team game, going 1-1 in tournament action.
Central (14-9) earned a 13th seed in the Class LL fray but truly, No. 20 Danbury and the Rams were about as even-steven as you could get.
Either team was in position to win and when Central trailed 42-34 with just under seven minutes to play in the final period, freshman Jamil Hornseby stepped up and accepted the challenge.
He canned 11 of his game-high 22 points over the fourth period and also added three rebounds and six assists, leading to a spot on the Bristol Observer first team.
Hornesby also canned three threes, got his mitts on several balls in the passing lanes and just missed out on a long shot late that could have tied the game up at 53-53.
He might have been freshman in stature but that was the only thing first year about the clever Hornesby.
On the second team, L.J. Johnson and Jason Severino made the squad, representing the Rams.
Johnson hit a big three late against Danbury and ended his varsity career with 10 points and four rebounds.
Jason Severino showed some fight at the other guard position and was active on both sides of the ball.
He ended play with seven points, three rebounds, and five steals over a full slate of work.
The challenge against Central was a tall order but going 14-8 on the campaign was a pretty solid record overall and fell to Danbury by just a 54-50 push.
And then for the squad from King Street, the postseason was a tough one indeed.
First, during the CCC Tournament, Eastern (10-12 overall) tangled with and fell to future Class M Champion Weaver and to open Class L play, the Lancers – ranked No. 28 – had to take on No. 5 Bunnell.
The Bulldogs went on to win the Class L championship but trailed Eastern 49-44 with 4:42 left to go in that first round encounter.
True, Bunnell rebounded to win it, 61-55, but the Lancers did not go quietly into the night.
Those were the type of challenges Eastern faced all season long for that matter, not just in postseason play.
Two Eastern players made the Observer first team, the same duo that ended up being named CCC South All Conference as well.
Seniors Daron McKoy and George Taylor III earned both honors. Against Bunnell, that combination almost helped the Lancers pull an amazing upset.
McKoy kicked in five three-pointers – including a huge four-point play – as he ended his scholastic career with 16 points and four rebounds.
In fact, that four-pack of points made it a 53-53 game with 1:05 left to go in the game as Eastern went under a minute against Bunnell all tied up in a contest that was truly up for grabs.
And then Taylor enjoyed another big contest and hit several clutch hoops.
His 15 points, three threes and four assists were critical additions to the offense and his playmaking was nearly enough to beat the soon to be champs on their own floor in Stratford.
Taylor also nabbed a steal and grabbed three rebounds in a complete game effort.
Eastern’s Kevin Love made the second unit as did freshman Tyler Arbuckle.
Love was limited due to foul trouble, playing just 16 minutes against Bunnell, but still grabbed nine rebounds during those limited stints on the hardwood.
The senior also scored four points and battled in the paint all evening long.
Arbuckle showed surprising poise for a first year player and he came through in the biggest game of the campaign.
The freshman smashed in a season high 10 points and drained 3-of-6 shots from long range.
Arbuckle also added two rebounds and two assists in 17 pressure filled minutes.
That night, he certainly earned his varsity stripes and big things are expected from the youngster in the future.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE