History was about to repeat itself in the worst possible way for the Immaculate boys basketball team. A big lead was gone and its stellar season was about to finish with two of the worst losses imaginable.
But then something happened. Composure was regained as overtime began — after an eight-point lead had disappeared in 75 seconds at the end of the fourth quarter — and the Mustangs emerged with the victory.
Sean Guiry scored 10 of his 20 points in overtime as Immaculate sealed its place in the Division I state quarterfinals with a dramatic 71-67 OT win over Ridgefield in a second-round game at Pomperaug High School on Wednesday. The seventh-seeded Mustangs now will play second-seed Notre Dame-West Haven on Monday for a spot in the semifinals.
“We like to make it exciting; this is Division I,” said Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos. “The kids didn’t quit; they came back and worked their butts off. Those kids are priceless, they really are.”
The Mustangs — who let a double-digit lead slip away before losing to Bunnell on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the South-West Conference finals — led Ridgefield 56-48 with just over a minute left before the Tigers channeled their resolve — the same one that staged a sensational rally to overtake Danbury and claim the FCIAC title last week.
Three-pointers by Chris Knachel and Luke McGarrity cut the deficit before a pair of foul shots by McGarrity tied the game at 56-56. Immaculate then missed a layup at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
“It felt like we had the momentum,” said Ridgefield senior guard James St. Pierre, who scored 37 points in his final high school game. “We were coming off the huge win against Danbury, where we came back in the fourth quarter and pulled it out. A couple shots didn’t drop and a few things didn’t work out our way. I’m just super proud of our guys; we didn’t give up the whole game.”
The threat of a second comeback was always there from the Tigers, but Immaculate finally sealed the win without a dramatic moment.
“The FCIAC is a great league and Ridgefield is a great team,” Mingachos said. “It was fun playing them.”
Ridgefield never led in the game despite tying it on several occasions as Immaculate started the contest on an 11-2 run.
“We just had to chase them the whole time,” said Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan, whose team has won two conference championships and a regular-season title in the last three years. “And when you do that, you expend so much energy. I think that finally caught up to us; at the end of the day we had a bunch of opportunities, shots that we’ve made all year long, and we didn’t knock them down.”
“That’s a tough one to swallow, but we’re not going to dwell on this too long,” added McClellan. “We had an amazing last week; the seniors are [leaving] here with three championships in three years, which at Ridgefield is uncharted territory. I couldn’t be more proud of what this program has become.”
Notes: Knachel added 16 points for the Tigers, who ended the season with a 17-7 record. McGarrity and Matt DeLuca each contributed seven points.
Mike Basile and Quinn Guth each scored 18 points for Immaculate (20-4).