Updated: Aug 24
The Trenton Central High School boys basketball celebrates after its 64-49 victory over Notre Dame in the Mercer County Tournament final at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey on Thursday, February 16, 2023. Kevin Emmons/D2 Sports Network
TRENTON (N.J.) - Antwan Bridgett didn't want to keep inconveniencing his brother.
The Trenton Central High School senior spent his last few games chasing 1,000 career points, but kept falling short. His older brother was driving back and forth from college for each game in hopes of witnessing the accomplishment, but left empty-handed each time.
Bridgett finally reached the milestone in front of family members as the top-ranked Tornadoes cruised past Notre Dame, 64-49, in the Mercer County Tournament final at CURE Insurance Arena on Thursday night.
"I was trying to gun for it for the whole past week," Bridgett said. "I couldn't get it at all. I was not playing my game. I was trying to force it, but it came in the flow of the game. After I got it I almost shed a tear to be honest. After that, I felt relief."
Fellow senior Davontay Hutson tallied a team-high 16 points for Trenton and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Chris Wilson added 12 and scored the Tornadoes' first five points of the contest. Brazil Fields also contributed 10 off the bench as Bridgett, Kabrien Goss and Calvin Moore chipped in seven each.
Trenton captured its first county tournament title since 2008 and its seventh in school history.
"We just wanted to come in here and get the job done," Hutson said. "We lost last year. We just needed one this year."
Bridgett reached 1,000 career points with a trio of free throws in the first quarter. His free throws provided Trenton with a 12-9 lead with 2:45 left in the frame and helped spark a 20-5 spurt.
Fields scored eight of his 10 points in the second quarter and converted an old-fashioned three-point play to cap a run of 13 unanswered points for the Tornadoes.
Trenton led by as much 18 points in the second quarter. The Tornadoes outscored Notre Dame 25-5 from the 3:13 mark of the opening frame until Fields' last score of the first half midway through the second quarter.
"You kind of just wait for it," Notre Dame coach Tim Stevens said. "You know they're going to make a run. I thought we could counter it and unfortunately we didn't get a good counter tonight. It caught up with us. They're a real, tough team regardless, but especially if you have to come back from any kind of deficit."
The Trenton Central High School boys basketball team captured its first Mercer County Tournament title since 2008 at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey on Thursday, February 16, 2023. Kevin Emmons/D2 Sports Network
Army commit Stesher Mathelier paced Notre Dame (16-9 record) with a game-high 18 points.
"That's the kind of player he is," Stevens said. "You don't see a lot of kids his size anywhere, especially in the (Colonial Valley Conference). He did what he could, and they did a really nice job of dropping quick guards on the backside and getting steals and frustrating him.
"They covered the kickouts well where we couldn't get in a flow and knock some shots down from the perimeter."
Jake Croce added 12 points in the second half for Notre Dame. Chris Vlahos tallied nine and Donovan Cottrell charted seven.
The Irish rallied to upset second-seeded Ewing to reach their first county tournament final since 2016. Trenton is only the second team to defeat them in their last seven contests.
Notre Dame will visit Red Bank Catholic in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A playoffs next Wednesday.
"They're going to pick their heads up," Stevens said. "We still got more work to do."
The Tornadoes improved their record to 25-1 and will host Sayreville in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs next week.
Trenton's first county title since 2008 was the culmination of hours spent working to improve, whether in the Moody Park Summer League or during offseason workouts, and will serve as the blueprint for future success on the hardwood in the Capitol City.
"It's been a journey," Hutson said. "My teammates, everybody wants to see each other shine. Everybody plays as one. Nobody's selfish. I think this is the best team I've played on at Trenton High.
"It's special. We got little kids looking up at us. They gonna, one day, want to do what we do. We setting it up for them."