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Bloomfield outlasts Granby to win Division IV state championship

Granby’s Justin Phillips (16) had a team-high 16 points but it wasn’t enough in a 58-54 loss to Bloomfield in the CIAC Division IV state title game Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Arena. More game photos

UNCASVILLE, March 20, 2022 – Sunday’s CIAC Division IV championship game between No. 4 Granby and No. 6 Bloomfield had a frentic pace, at times, as the two teams raced up and down the Mohegan Sun Arena floor, grabbing rebounds and putting up shots.

There were hands everywhere — disrupting passes and shots, denying shots and forcing turnovers.

Bloomfield thrived on the chaos. Granby was right there, too. But the Warhawks made a few more plays and grabbed a few more rebounds to win their first state championship since 2008 with a 58-54 win over the Bears.

Granby (21-6) tied the game with 3:07 remaining on Justin Phillips’ drive to the basket and trailed by two, 54-52, with 1:42 left in regulation thanks to a layup from John Bell. But Bloomfield was disruptive enough and poised enough to hold off the Bears.

“Give credit to Bloomfield,” Granby coach Wally Hansen said. “They (can) speed you up and make you do things you may not want to do.”

Bell was fouled on his layup and went to the line to try and complete the three-point play but missed on the foul shot. But teammate Joshua Brown pulled down the rebound and the Bears called timeout.

Granby’s Declan Lynch missed a three-point attempt with 1:19 remaining and the Warhawks rebounded the ball and called timeout.

On the next possession, Granby’s Troy Crockett got the steal and quickly got the ball to Max Jansen, who was fouled with 52 seconds left. Jansen missed the foul shot and Warhawks got the rebound.

Bloomfield’s Davien Kerr sank two foul shots with 28 seconds left to increase the lead to four, 56-52. Brown missed on a three-point attempt with 19 seconds left but teammate John Bell got the rebound and fed Liam Heinze, who put the ball in off glass with 14 seconds left to cut the lead to two.

Bloomfield’s Howard Simpson added a pair of free throws with four seconds left for a 58-54 lead.

Granby’s John Bell (24) tries to get the basket as Howard Simpson (2) defends in Sunday’s Division IV championship game at the Mohegan Sun Arena. More game photos

Simpson, a 6-foot-5 junior, was dominant throughout the game. He had a game-high 23 points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

Freshman Cayden Smith scored 12 points thanks to four 3-point shots that seemed to stymie Granby rallies throughout the contest. Jansyn Booth had five points and 10 rebounds while Lake McLean had five points and eight rebounds.

The Warhawks (21-5) outrebounded Granby by a 54-39 margin.

“They are athletic. They get to the rim They share (the ball),“ Hansen said. “They were making tough shots. They made some tough challenged shots. They made shots and made some plays.”

And … “I thought we were right there,” he said.

Phillips had a team-high 16 points and six rebounds. He used his speed to penetrate the Bloomfield defense and make things happen. Brown had 12 points and six rebounds while Bell had 12 points and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.

Granby’s 6-foot-8 Ralph Rossi had six points and five rebounds, but he was in foul trouble throughout the contest and fouled out with 4:02 remaining. “I think he controlled the boards when he was in there and did a good job,” Hansen said. “That happens in basketball games – foul trouble. You just have to figure it out.”

Granby scored the first seven points of the game only to see Bloomfield come back and score the next nine points. The Bears took a 17-16 with 4:20 left in the first half on a Bell basket only to see Bloomfield score eight quick points on a three from Smith, a three from Shane Bell and Simpson on a fast break to boost the lead to seven.

Bloomfield and Howard Simpson (2) celebrate after winning their first state championship in basketball since 2008 with a 58-54 win over Granby Sunday.  More game photos

Granby finally caught up late in the fourth quarter.

“We fought and we fought,” Hansen said. “We fought for all 32 minutes That’s all you can ask for. There are things (possessions) you would like (to have) back.

“We could have done a better job on the backboards,” he said. Hansen paused and shrugged his shoulders as Queen’s legendary “We are the champions” song roared through the arena. “We competed and fought every possession,” he said.

It was the second straight appearance for the Bears in the state finals at Mohegan Sun. Granby lost to New Canaan in 2019 in the Division IV finals. The 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and there was no 2021 state tournament. It was Granby’s third trip to the state finals in school history.

Bloomfield 58, Granby 54
At Uncasville
Bloomfield (58)
Dallas Rose 0-0-0, Jaysean Williams 0-0-0, Howard Simpson 8-7-23, Shane Bell 2-0-5, Cayden Smith 4-0-12, Lake McLean 2-1-5, Davien Kerr 2-2-6, Jansyn Booth 2-1-5, Davion Kerr 0-2-2. Totals 20-13
Granby (54) John Bell 5-2-12, Declan Lynch 0-0-0, Troy Crockett 0-0-0, Justin Phillips 6-2-16, Joshua Brown 5-1-12, Liam Heinze 1-1-3, Jack Steele 0-0-0, Max Jansen 2-1-5, Ralph Rossi 3-0-6. Totals 22-7
Bloomfield (21-5)                   13  18  12  15  — 58
Granby (21-6)                          11  16    9  18  — 54
Three-point goals: Phillips (G) 2, Brown (G), Bell (B), Smith (B) 4

More game statistics

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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