BOYS BASKETBALL: No. 1 East Catholic hands Platt its most lopsided loss in CCC semifinals

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HARTFORD — Platt saw first-hand what the best basketball team in the state looks like on Monday afternoon.

The No. 4 Panthers absorbed their biggest defeat of the year, 90-44, to top-seeded East Catholic in the first of two CCC Tournament semifinals at the Chase Family Arena on the campus of the University of Hartford.

The 23-1 Eagles, winners of 14 in a row, will face either Conard or Bloomfield in the CCC Tournament finals Thursday at UHart.

Against Platt, East Catholic was powered by big performances from guard Samson Reilly (31 points) and forward James Jones (30 points).

“I was proud of the way we played,” East Catholic coach Luke Reilly said. “We looked like a pretty good basketball team tonight.”

Platt (18-5) had a five-game winning streak snapped and will now prepare for the Division III state tournament, which opens next week.

Top scorers for Platt were Anthony Nimani (16 points) and Makhai Anderson (13). Both, however, were held below their season averages as Platt had a season-low in points on Monday night.

“Tough one,” Platt coach Shawon Moncrief said. “We never got going offensively. We settled for a lot of jump shots and, against a team like that, that’s exactly what they want you to do, because when you miss it’s a fast break for the other team. We’ve got to be better.”

East Catholic played a nearly flawless first half. The Manchester school was 7-for-10 from beyond the arc in the opening 16 minutes.

Sam Reilly was 9-for-10 from the field in the first half for 22 points. He was also 4-for-5 from beyond the arc just in the first quarter.

“We have a lot of weapons, which is nice, and when someone gets going like that you feed the hot hand a little bit and he put out quite a performance today, so good for him,” Luke Reilly said. “We have to really share the ball and we have a lot of equal parts and, in a game like this, the ball was going in for him, which is great because he has a great work ethic and is a great teammate.”

Platt was with the Eagles for the first quarter. Justin Black (7 points) hit a 3-pointer to draw the Panthers within 10-8. Anderson later added a two-handed slam as the Panthers were within 13-10.

But East Catholic, which led 18-12 after one quarter, ended the first half on a 29-9 run to take a 42-19 lead into the half. 

Platt’s big weapons were held in check as Nimani had five points and Anderson had seven at the half.

The East Catholic lead swelled to over 30 points as Jones had 16 points in the third quarter alone and the Eagles led 68-37 after three quarters. Jones added six more points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to get to 30 points on the night.

Both coaches began to empty their benches in the final minutes.

“It’s a talented bunch and they don’t care who gets the credit,” Luke Reilly said. “He was excellent tonight. We looked like a good team.”

Platt is projected to play Bunnell to open the Division III state tournament. Pairings will be made official on Wednesday.

“We have to learn to be strong to get to our sweet spot in our sets,” Moncrief said. “At this point of the season everyone knows everyone’s stuff, and that’s OK. But you have to get to the spot and run option B and C if option A isn’t there.”

The Panthers’ wins over Manchester (first round) and Glastonbury (quarterfinals) were their first ever in the CCC Tournament. 

“We are happy and proud to be in the situation of playing in big games like this, but we want more,” Moncrief said. “We are going to learn from it and look to take it out on who we face in states.”


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