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H-K 8th Grade Travel Basketball Team Captures 3rd Consecutive Conference Championship

Submitted by Pete Christopher.

On Sunday February 25, 2018, the Haddam-Killingworth Boys 8th Grade Travel Basketball team concluded its season and travel basketball careers with a thrilling 79-73 overtime victory over rival Clinton to capture the team’s 3rd consecutive conference championship, having completed the feat in 6th grade (2016) and 7th grade (2017).
H-K earned the #1 seed in the conference tournament after finishing the regular season at 16-1 in league play. The team earned a double bye in to the Elite 8 portion of the bracket and defeated a tough Groton team, 72-62. The Cougars then met Portland in the Final Four and outlasted the Highlanders 51-43 setting up a third meeting with the rival Huskies, who bested East Hampton in the other semi-final match-up, 61-48.
After H-K’s Justin Menard hit a three pointer to open the game, H-K would not regain the lead in regulation. The Huskies were paced by the scintillating shooting of Clinton’s Drew Nye, who connected on a championship game record eight 3-pointers and a game-high 28 points. H-K trailed 51-42 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and was losing by 12 with under 3:30 to play. It was then when the Cougars began their improbable comeback, erasing the 12 point lead and forcing overtime tied at 64 with two free throws by Menard in the final seconds and after a Clinton 3-point shot at the buzzer was just long.
In overtime, H-K hit 11-12 free throws and scored 15 points in four minutes to finish off the comeback and prevail 79-73. Menard led the Cougars with 24 points and 10 assists, Ethan Johnson contributed 24 points and 11 rebounds and Erik Winikur added 17 points and 8 rebounds. Combined with theĀ  smothering defense and unselfish play of Connor Jenkins and Bryce Anderson, the Cougars scored 51 points in the final 20 minues of the game. The game could not have been won without the sterling bench play of Braden Pollack, Declan Christopher, Adam Alonzo and Jon Hosney, who all contributed valuable minutes in the victory; along with the support of teammates Corey Phipps, JJ Fox and Andrew Hedges.
The Cougars finished this season with a 24-5 overall record and since the team was formed in 4th grade, compiled an amazing overall record of 117-30. The team would like to thank the H-K Travel League, their coaches and most importantly their parents and families for the support over their travel basketball careers.
1st Row (L-R): Assistant Coach Brien Jenkins, Declan Christopher, Adam Alonzo, Justin Menard, Bryce Anderson, Connor Jenkins, Corey Phipps, Assistant Coach Anthony Andeen.
2nd Row (L-R): Assistant Coach Pete Christopher, Andrew Hedges, JJ Fox, Braden Pollack, Erik Winikur, Ethan Johnson, Jon Hosney, Head Coach Brett Zanardi.