McClease, No. 10 Wilbur Cross boys basketball rally past Hand, end two-game losing streak

NEW HAVEN — It has been seven years since the Wilbur Cross basketball team lost three consecutive games. Having lost two in a row and down 13 points in the first half, that streak was in jeopardy.

Behind nine fourth quarter points from Elijah Jean-Guillaume and five more from Christian McClease, the tenth-ranked Governors rallied for a 67-64 victory over Handin a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at Wilbur Cross High Tuesday evening.

“We realized what we needed to do and came out strong in the second half,” McClease said after finishing with 16 points. “The biggest change was we played with heart. We played strong defense, rebounded strong, and passed the ball around.”

The length of time between three-game losing streaks was not lost on Cross coach Kevin Walton as the sole mission of the team was to get back to its winning ways.

“We needed to get a win today,” Walton said after his team improved to 4-2 on the year. “There are no days off in the SCC. It is a process. The process is to learn how to win games. I am proud of the guys. They fought hard and held together.”

For Hand, it was a case of missed opportunities. The Tigers held double digit leads in each of the first two quarters, and were up 48-42 in the third quarter, before Cross rallied each time.

Hand also had a chance to take control of the game in the fourth quarter, down by two and with a chance to grab a loose ball, but Cross won the battle and eventually the game.

“One possession really sticks out,” Hand coach Jimmy Economopoulos said after his team fell to 4-2. “It was just a lack of toughness. We are down two and the ball is rolling around. Cross came up with it. They won the battle. If we come up with it, it is a different game at that point. They did and it came up Cross.”

Trailing the entire first half, Fredo Delgado gave the Governors their first lead of the contest at 50-48 with a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The trey was one of five on the night for Delgado, who also drained another 3-pointer in the fourth quarter for a 61-57 lead.

“We worked our way back in the game,” Walton said. “Hand is a good team. They are well-coached. We buckled down on defense. We shared the ball on offense. That was big for us.”

The Tigers evened the contest at 61 on consecutive buckets by Tyler Favre wit 2:11 remaining, . Favre gave Hand another lead at 63-62 with 54.5 seconds to go, but a pair of free throws by Jean-Guillaume (18 points) gave Cross the lead for good at 64-63 with 48.4 seconds remaining.

After a Hand miss, McClease hit one of two free throws for a two-point advantage. Hand had an opportunity to even the game with five seconds to go, but Hudson Geremia hit on just one of two free throws.

McClease iced the contest and snapped the Governors two-game skid by draining both free throws in the final two seconds.

“We played as one,” McClease said. “It is a huge win for us. We lost our last two games. This is a big game to get us going again.”

Hand opened the game in impressive fashion, scoring the first eight points behind four from Favre. Cross finally got on the scoreboard when Delgado drained a 3-pointer with 3:44 left in the opening quarter.

A 3-pointer by Favre and a bucket by Daniel Hilmer gave the Tigers an 18-5 advantage. Favre’s bucket gave Hand a 29-20 lead, before Cross closed the half on a 15-6 run.

A 3-pointer by Delgado got Cross within 34-31 with one minute remaining in the half and McClease drained a bucket with six seconds to go to tie the game at 35.

Favre led Hand with 28 points, Geremia had 11, and Kyle Hoffman 10 in the loss.


Christian McClease: Cross senior scored 16 points, including 12 in the second half when the Governors made a late run to pull out the victory. McClease scored 5 in the fourth quarter and connected on 3-of-4 free throws in the final 8 minutes.


“We played as one. In the first half, we may have been a little selfish. In the second half, we came out strong and played as one.”

— Cross senior Christian McClease


HAND18 17 15 14 — 64

WILBUR CROSS8 27 15 17 — 67

HAND (4-2)

Chase Geremia — 1 1 0-0 5; Tyler Favre — 1 11 3-4 28; Trey Adams — 2 0 0-0 6; Kyle Hoffman — 2 2 0-0 10; Hudson Geremia — 1 3 2-4 11; Daniel Hilmer 0 2 0-0 4.

CROSS (4-2)

Elijah Jeane-Guillaume — 1 4 7-8 18; Christian McClease — 1 3 5-7 16; Fredo Delgado — 5 2 3-3 22; Christopher Van Tassel — 0 4 3-7 11.