Breen nets 25, Trojans clip Reds
With one minute and 40 seconds left to play on Tuesday night, the visiting Centerville Reds held a 62-61 lead over Fairfield.
Trojan point guard James Lyman was dribbling 35 feet from the Centerville bucket.
Fairfield head coach Tyler Miklo saw exactly what he wanted: Tristin Waugh was setting a solid baseline pick for Collin Breen.
“Tristin ran a real good screen for Collin,” Miklo said. “We felt good about this play.”
Lyman didn’t look at Breen. Not yet anyways. He dribbled straight into the lane, drawing attention.
“That’s a play we’ve been working on against a zone,” Lyman said. “We knew we needed to get Collin Breen the ball. So if I drive into the middle, and if I can get a paint-touch and kick it out to Collin — as hot as he’s been lately — we know it’s going in.”
Off Waugh’s screen, Breen dashed into the corner, behind the arc, not far from where Miklo was standing.
Lyman made the crisp dish to Breen, who remained in 3-point land.
“Once I got that ball from James, I had confidence,” Breen said.
Breen didn’t hesitate. He let it fly.
“As soon as I let it go,” said Breen, “I was thinking, ‘That’s in … Thank God.’ ”
Breen was correct: That ball swished right through the net, and Fairfield led 64-62.
“Once that shot went in, I knew we had the momentum,” Breen said. “We heard our crowd getting loud and our whole team was excited.”
But there was more work to do.
Centerville (10-8) immediately went on the attack. Trailing by two with 1:15 left to go, the Reds were moving the ball around swiftly. Then Breen made a move to swipe a pass.
Lyman didn’t wait around and watch. He’d seen enough.
“I knew instantly Collin would make the steal,” Lyman said.
So Lyman flew down the court.
Breen indeed made the clean swipe and whipped a fastball to a wide-open Lyman, who promptly made the layup, and Fairfield led 66-62.
“I just reacted to the ball and I knew James was flying down there,” Breen said. “I thought, ‘There goes James.’”
Said Miklo, “Collin had good anticipation on the steal and we got the throw-ahead to James — and that really put Centerville behind the 8-ball.”
And Centerville never recovered.
With 25 seconds left, Lyman made another slick assist, this to Waugh. In the final 20 seconds, Breen canned 2 of 2 free throws and Lyman also hit 2 of 2 — and the Trojans won 72-68.
The Fairfield players, deservedly so, went berserk on the floor, and the hollering didn’t stop in the locker room.
“I’m just happy for our players,” Miklo said. “They’ve seemed to turn a corner. I’m thrilled for them.”
And Miklo was thrilled at the total team effort he got.
Breen scored a career-high 25 points, Waugh had 14, Lyman and Carson Crile each netted 13 points and Dante Cingire scored seven.
The assist sheet would warm any coach’s heart: Of the 25 field goals Miklo’s Trojans made, 15 were off assists.
“Yes, those assist numbers are very good,” Miklo said. “And that helps a lot. We’re more unselfish now. I’m proud of our guys for that.”
Lyman dished a game-high five assists, Crile four, Cingire three, Waugh two and Aaron Haines one.
Also for Fairfield (7-9), Crile had a game-high nine rebounds, Waugh five and Kyle Roberts, Cole Engle and Cooper Drish each had one.
Cingire had a game-high three steals, Breen two and Lyman, Drish, Roberts and Waugh each made one.
“Overall,” said Breen, “it came down to pride — every guy on our team played this game with pride.”