SOUTHINGTON — They may not be the fastest, most athletic or best Central Connecticut Conference crew, but don’t say Southington’s basketball seniors aren’t scrappy.
And maybe the scrappiest of the bunch made a play that turned things in the Blue Knights’ favor Friday night.
Senior Devan Bade’s third-quarter steal and fast-break turned into an intentional foul, resulting in four Southington free throws and possession of the ball in an eventual 49-37 CCC Region B victory over Plainville.
Bade scored 14 points, eight after halftime. Senior center Aedan Derrick had a game-high 15, several coming after offensive rebounds.
Another senior, Rick Macioce, added 12 for the Blue Knights, who evened their record at 1-1.
Southington, which starts five seniors but played just eight of 15 players on its young bench, also turned up the defensive heat after trailing 23-22 at halftime. The Blue Knights smothered Plainville, holding the Blue Devils without a basket in the third quarter.
Plainville (0-2) managed just a pair of free throws in the period as the Blue Knights outscored the Blue Devils 13-2 to take a 35-25 lead into the fourth quarter. Southington forced four turnovers in the third quarter, and the Blue Devils missed all six shots they took from the field.
“They took it to us last week (in a scrimmage), so we knew what we were up against,” said Southington head coach John Cessario. “It was our job as a staff to get (the players) ready and we were ready.”
The turning point of the game came courtesy of Bade, with Southington up 26-23 in the third.
Bade swiped the ball away from Plainville guard Tyshawn Johnson behind the 3-point arc and raced toward the Southington basket with Johnson in pursuit. Johnson caught up to Bade at the basket, knocking Bade down on the baseline.
The two got face to face after Johnson’s hard foul, but it was Johnson who was called for a technical.
As a result of the foul, Bane made one of two free throws. Macioce then canned both technical free throws to put the Blue Knights up 29-23.
Southington also took possession after Macioce’s free throws, and despite Derrick being called for travelling on a nice dunking spin move on the baseline, Bade nailed a 3-pointer on Southington’s next possession with 4:34 to play in the quarter to put the Blue Knights up 32-23.
“It was my fault, really. I stared at him. I shouldn’t have done that,” Bane said of his encounter with Johnson. “I could have been called for a double tech. But it did turn the game around.
“We played basketball like we should (in the second half),” Bade continued. “Our plays worked very well, we got a lot of inside touches and our big guys worked much better than last game. We also hit some outside shots, and our defense was just awesome.”
Bade also had a big night in Wednesday night’s 55-48 overtime loss at New Britain. He scored 17 points and sparked a 13-point Southington comeback that forced the extra session.
One player who didn’t enjoy his trip to New Britain was Derrick, who scored just two points and was a non-factor in the opener.
Derrick, however, controlled the paint Friday at home. Derrick had an emphatic third-quarter block and his fifth offensive rebound of the game resulted in his third and-one of the contest to give Southington a 38-25 lead with 6:14 to play.
“That first game (in New Britain), I came out real slow; it wasn’t satisfactory at all,” admitted Derrick, who stands 6-foot-5. “I took it upon myself as a captain to produce energy. I wanted to redeem myself. I focused on aggression, getting boards and scoring.
“That block gave me a surplus of confidence,” he added. “Defensively, I’ve been looking to get a few highlight plays to get myself going mentally, so I can contribute to the overall morale of the team. “
Plainville tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter by pressing Southington. Blue Devils’ shooting guard Alec Couture (15 points) made two of hits five treys in the quarter.
His first one got the Blue Devils within 38-28 with 5:49 to play. He hit the other with 4:29 to play to pull Plainville as close at it would get, 40-33.
Southington was able to break the press enough times to stay ahead, as Bane made a pair of layups on the back end of the press-breaker and Dylan Olson banked in a shot with 2:37 to play to give the Blue Knights a 48-36 lead.
“The big guy (Derrick) came to play and played with an aggression we expect but didn’t get in Game 1,” Cessario said. “But nobody is perfect. I did anticipate after yesterday’s practice that he would come out and be the guy we need, and he was.
“But what was great is Macioce didn’t score in the first game and look what he did tonight. It’s a ‘class act,’ meaning it’s all of us together. It isn’t one guy you need to rely on.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair with the Blue Devils taking a 23-22 lead into halftime.
A Macioce 3-pointer gave the Blue Knights their first lead of the game a minute into the second quarter. Plainville missed six straight shots from the end of the first quarter and the start of the second to allow Southington to take its lead.
The teams then traded leads for the next three minutes, before Bade hit a 3-pointer with 3:55 to play in the half to give Southington a 20-16 lead. Bade’s triple came after Derrick & Co. gathered in four offensive rebounds.
The Blue Knights came out sloppy, committing four turnovers and missing three of their first four shots to fall behind 11-4.
Southington, however, got close quickly by the end of the first quarter on back-to-back 3’s by Bade and Olson 45 seconds apart. The Blue Knights then took their first lead of the game on Macioce’s 3-pointer.