TRUMBULL — On a night when nothing seemed to turn out as intended, it figured the game-winning, buzzer-beating shot that decided the contest between two FCIAC contenders would be executed in a manner different than planned.
That it turned out to give Trumbull’s Timmond Williams 1,000 points for his career just made it sweeter.
Williams banked in a 3-point shot just before the horn sounded to give the Eagles a 50-49 win over Ridgefield. Trumbull (6-0, 3-0) needed to score five straight points in the final 18 seconds to remain unbeaten.
After the Tigers had fouled three straight times to run off time, Williams received an inbounds pass from Chris Brown. He took one dribble, with Ridgefield star James St. Pierre guarding him tightly.
“We drew up a play and it didn’t really work so I just figured I’ll take the shot and it went in,” said Williams, who finished with 19 points on a night he had difficulty scoring. “I didn’t think it was going in.”
Ridgefield (4-2, 2-1), which lost for the second straight time, trailed by as many as eight points in the second half, but used better execution to take a 49-45 lead on a layup by St. Pierre with 1:01 left.
The Tigers, unable to get the ball into the hands of St. Pierre or one of their more experienced guards, missed two one-and-ones in the final 27 seconds. After the first, Williams was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made two shots. Following the second, Williams created an indelible moment.
“I’m extremely happy for Timmond,” Trumbull coach Buddy Bray said. “I think he would agree it was not one of his better shooting nights. He struggled most of the night but he kept hanging in there and he saw one go down. You try to get your best player the shot, he came of the screen, he didn’t come off clean. All night long Ridgefield was excellent on defense.”
Play was ragged most of the night, with the two teams looking like they were playing for the first time after the holiday break. There were missed shots, turnovers and the pace was slowed by an inordinate number of foul calls. In the third quarter the teams combined at one point for 12 points and seven turnovers.
St. Pierre finished with 25 points for Ridgefield. His layup ended a drought of almost four minutes and cut Trumbull’s lead to 32-26.
The Eagles then held the ball for well over a minute. When they decided to attack the basket, they turned the ball over.
St. Pierre scored on a runner and the Tigers completed an 18-4 run to take a 42-36 lead after a St. Pierre 3-pointer with 5:27 left.
“We were in a lot of foul trouble,” Bray said, explaining his strategy. “Their defense sagging man to man, we were trying to spread the floor and the kids didn’t feel it was necessary to attack up six. They were packing it in. That backfired a little bit. We were having a tough shooting night.”
The Eagles started to chip away, beginning with a 3-point shot by Quentar Taylor (14 points).
Williams hit a shot over St. Pierre to tie the game for Trumbull at 45-45 with 1:32 left, but Chris Knachel answered with an inside basket to put Ridgefield back on top.
“I thought that was as well as we could play in the second half for 10 or 12 minutes against a really good team,” Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan said. “We just didn’t finish the game. We’ve had a lot of success in the last two years and we have done this to a bunch of people and it doesn’t taste as good for it to happen to us. The kid made a flat-out big-time shot to win the game for them.”
Bray praised Williams’ offseason dedication, and said his heroics were a deserved result.
“That ball is going to go down because that kid has worked his tail off,” Bray said. “He dedicated himself all offseason. I couldn’t be happier for him. He deserves all the accolades he gets.”
Trumbull had not won by fewer than 12 points this season.
“That was our first real test and we pulled it out,” Williams said. “We forced them to play our game at the end and we came out a winner.”