Timing did not work out for the Joel Barlow High boys basketball team with respect to its chances for a spot in the state Class M tournament.
The Falcons needed just one more win in order to qualify as they headed into the last week of the regular season. However, it was also the toughest part of their schedule.
Hosting South-West Conference powerhouse Kolbe-Cathedral last Monday, Feb. 18, the Falcons gave their opponent all it could handle before losing a hard fought 61-46 loss.
Barlow played by far its best first-quarter defense, trailing only 14-10 after one frame. The Cougars also could play some tough defense and held the hosts scoreless for nearly six min in the next period limiting them to only four points as the deficit grew to 29-14 at halftime.
The Falcons came out in the second half and had cut the lead to seven but with 2.5 seconds left in the third, Kolbe’s Chris Williams, (23 points) hit a three-pointer at the buzzer and was fouled, The resulting four-point play allowed Kolbe to regain the momentum and to cruise to the win.
“We had them on the ropes,” said Barlow head coach Matt Whelan. “We had momentum and the crowd into it, but that play at the buzzer killed us. The kids played their hearts out, but when we play teams like Kolbe, we just can’t make mistakes. We need to play as perfect a game as we can, tonight the second quarter and the foul, were to much to over come. But the kids gave it their all, I am proud of our effort.”
It did not get any easier for the Falcons the next day when they were home to Notre Dame of Fairfield on Senior Night. A 94-60 loss was Barlow’s most lopsided of the season.
With five players scoring in double figures, the Lancers were hard to stop. Despite a five-point effort by Barlow’s Cooper Brown in the first quarter, the hosts trailed 18-9.
Things did not get any easier from there. Although the Falcons did improve offensively, due in part to an 11-point effort by Will Bracken in the second quarter, Notre Dame also turned its scoring up a notch. Its depth became apparent with four players netting at least five points each for a 44-26 lead at halftime.
Bracken gave a repeat performance for the Falcons as the second half got underway but it was not enough for them to keep pace. Again the Lancers counted on a number of players to find the hoop, seven in all, resulting in a 70-42 advantage.
The Falcons did not quit, saving their best offensive performance for last. Ryan Corr’s three three-pointers were a big help but the Lancers remained well out of reach.
Bracken led Barlow with 23 points and was the only Barlow scorer in double digits. Corr and Moriber (one three-pointer) each had nine. Brown had five.
Liam Rooney, Jack Gallagher and John Richetelli all sank four and Finn Cohane scored two.
Barlow had one last chance to qualify in the regular-season finale last Thursday in a non-league game at home against Bridgeport Central. A contender in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Conference this year, the Hilltoppers set the tone early in a 75-58 win, ending the season for Barlow.
Central, which never trailed, went up early on back-to-back three-pointers by Tyler Ancrum and a putback by Shaquan Bretar before Moriber answered with a steal and lay-up to make it 8-2. The Hilltoppers also had the advantage in rebounds denying the Falcons second chance shots as they trailed 23-8 after one quarter.
While the Falcons held the competition to less than 20 points in the next frame their own offense improved only slightly. Most of its scoring came from the foul line as Brown sank four free throws. A pair of field goals by Rooney and one from Adam Koubeck accounted for the rest of the scoring as they trailed 41-18.
Playing their last half of the season, the Falcons cut the gap a bit when play resumed, outscoring the Hilltoppers 40-33 over the last two frame before the final buzzer sounded.
Kieran Geyer led Barlow with 18 points. Rooney (eight) Moriber (eight), Brown (six) Grayson Kramer (three) and Cohane also played their final high school game.
Koubeck scored seven and Bracken sank four. Corr and Chatham Studer each had two.
Barlow finishes the season at 7-13 overall.