FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- The Premier Hoops Development team based out of Fairfield went 4-2 at the State Open recently, placing third and qualifying for the Nationals tournament for the second time this season.
The PHD eighth-grade team, coached by Warde varsity basketball coach Ryan Swaller, opened the tournament by winning two games. Will Lucas led the way in game one, shooting three three-pointers and scoring 11 points, as PHD took down the CT Defenders, 58-49. In game two, Cole Prowitt-Smith consistently tore through traffic, lifting PHD to a 64-47 win against Rough Riders.
The following day, PHD traveled back to Hartford for an early game against Peace. Out of their groove, PHD was unable to recover from an early deficit, losing 58-39. With double elimination threatening, PHD bounced back in the second game, winning a rematch against the CT Defenders 79-46. Malcolm Brune led PHD with 15 points followed by Sean Conway, who scored 12. Cooper Nielsen iced the Defenders with back-to-back three-point baskets to end the game.
Brune stayed hot offensively, leading PHD in their next game. PHD went on a 16-1 run lead in first half and led the entire game to defeat the Panthers, 66-34, and advance to the CT State Open semifinals against the New Haven Heat.
Demetrius Robins kept the game close for the first eight minutes, but the Heat eventually prevailed, taking a 69-54 victory to eliminate PHD.
PHD improved to 15-3 overall and qualified for Nationals for the second time this season. The team was due to travel to Saratoga, N.Y., and Springfield, Mass., for more tournaments.
The 5th Grade PHD Team, coached by John Cappello, also had a great weekend. The team played a tough first game against the CT Defenders, which it won by 10 points. In the winners bracket semifinal, they fell to Stamford Peace.
After battling back through the losers bracket, they had a rematch with the Stamford Peace in the State Open finals. This time, PHD hit big shots, but the effort came up four points short. With the second place finish, Coach Cappello's team earned a bid to nationals.
Other teams that competed were 7th Grade Carothers (5th Place), 5th Grade Black (4th Place), 6th Grade Gill, 6th Grade Corkery, 7th Grade Wielk, 8th Grade Lindwall and 9th Grade Landin.