NEWTOWN–Trailing by one point with three seconds on the game clock, Bunnell boys basketball coach Dannie Powell knew exactly who to turn to.
With the SWC championship on the line, junior Maximus Edwards caught an inbounds pass over two defenders near midcourt, raced up the floor, and sank a miraculous 3-point shot as time expired to give the Bulldogs a 64-62 victory over top-seeded Immaculate in the league title game Thursday night at Newtown High School.
“I felt it. I just had to shoot it and it went in,” Edwards said of his buzzer beater.
After a lackluster first two quarters, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player revved it up in the second half, scoring 16 of his 28 points in the third and fourth quarter.
The win secures Bunnell’s first SWC championship since 2015 and is Powell’s first league championship in his first year as head coach of the Bulldogs.
“In my mind, I said we are going to win this game,” Powell said. “No one can jump with Max – he’s one of the best players in the league and one of the best players in the state. He made a big shot and that’s exactly what you expect from a player like him.”
Bunnell and Immaculate went back and forth the entire game under the bright lights and gave the near sell-out crowd a game they won’t soon forget.
Immaculate led by as much as 11 points late in the third quarter, but Bunnell refused to quit.
With under two minutes to go in the quarter, Nick Rodrigues came off the bench and nailed two consecutive 3-point shots for the Bulldogs.
Edwards added a layup as time expired to cap an 8-0 run by Bunnell to end the third, cutting the Immaculate lead to three.
It would prove to be the spark they needed rolling into the final eight minutes of play.
With two minutes left in the fourth, and Immaculate leading 58-54, Edwards got his first 3-pointer of the game to drop, cutting the lead to just one.
With under a minute to go, Bunnell’s Tyler Staggs-Burgess got fouled on a put-back layup and converted a three-point play to put Bunnell up 61-60.
Immaculate answered with a put back of their own by Sean Guiry, putting them ahead 62-61 with just three seconds left.
As security rushed to block off Immaculate’s student section from storming the court, it was Bunnell’s student section they would need to be concerned about.
Off of a Bunnell timeout, Edwards took just a few strides and heaved up the game-winner from the top of the key, etching the 2018-2019 Bunnell Bulldogs into the SWC history books.
“It’s a good feeling to win a championship on a buzzer beater,” Edwards said. “It wouldn’t have been if it weren’t for my teammates locking in on defense.”
Guiry and Mike Basile played outstanding for the Mustangs. Guiry finished with 21 points and Basile finished with 16.
Eli Alexandre added 14 points for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs next game will take place in the Division II state tournament against Ledyard at home on Monday.
BUNNELL 64, IMMACULATE 62
Tyler Staggs-Burgess 1 1-1 3 Khalid Moreland 3 0-4 6 Max Edwards 12 2-4 28 Elijah Alexandre 7 0-0 14 Nick Rodrigues 2 0-0 6 Joshua Giannoni 2 0-0 4 Javon Wilson 2 1-2 5. Totals: 29 4-11 64.
Mike Basile 7 2-2 16 Jack Woods 3 2-2 9 Quinn Guth 4 4-4 12 Sean Guiry 10 1-4 21 Matt Schlictig 1 0-0 2 Diego Echevarria 1 0-1 2. Totals: 26 9-13 62
BUNNELL 16 13 16 19 — 64
IMMACULATE 14 21 13 14 — 62
3-pointers: B—Edwards 2, Rodrigues 2; I—Woods; Team Records: Bunnell 18-5, Immaculate 19-4