EAST HARTFORD — Before most fans had settled into their seats, the Darien boys basketball team was staring at a 12-0 deficit on the road at East Hartford.

The No. 4 Hornets jumped on the No. 13 Blue Wave right from the tip with pressure defense and an attacking offense.

Darien would rally in the second half, getting to within four points early in the fourth quarter, but did not have enough in the tank to complete the comeback, falling 59-43 in the second round of the Class LL state tournament.

East Hartford will face the winner No. 5 Weaver in Friday’s quarterfinals. The Beavers beat No. 21 Hall 81-60 Wednesday.

Darien played evenly with East Hartford after the first quarter, but the early hole proved to be too steep to get out of.

“We had a lot of nerves to start the game,” Darien coach Charoy Bentley said. “As the game went on, it was more of a back and forth. They have really good players, but early it was more of a nerves thing.”

East Hartford led 16-4 after one, though it could have been worse for Darien as the Hornets missed several layups.

Darien’s shaky nerves combined with the swarming defense of East Hartford led to the 12-point cushion early.

Darien outscored East Hartford 15-6 in the third and after scoring the first basket of the fourth, trailed by only four.

“In the third, we just wanted to put more pressure on them,” Bentley said. “We thought we had made them too comfortable in their own house. Once we turned up the pressure, that got us back in the game.”

From there, however, the Hornets were able to gather themselves on offense, tighten up the defense once again and make free throws.

“I think we knocked down a couple shots that we needed to,” East Hartford coach Ed Lavoie said. “We were able to extend the lead by attacking the rim and then hitting enough free throws. We also switched up our D, which we haven’t done much this year and we went to a 2-3 zone which kind of messed them up a bit. Our defense has been our offense and that helped us get an early lead. I thought we didn’t capitalize early. I thought we had five or six layups that we should have made and could have extended our lead.”

Isaiah Williams led the Hornets with 16 points with Justin Nwafor adding 14, Austin Nwafor putting in 13 and Kingsley Cockburn scoring 12.

Alex Preston led Darien with 14 points and Theo Moore put in 10.

sericson

@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports

EAST HARTFORD 59, DARIEN 43

DARIEN (15-7)

Will Rolapp 0 0-0 0; Zak Swetye 2 0-0 5; Jack Tierney 1 0-0 2; Andrew Darby 0 0-0 0; Alex Preston 5 4-4 14; Theo Moore 6 0-1 10; Jack Richter 2 0-0 4; Riley Stewart 1 0-0 2; Carter Scott 1 4-5 6; Quinn Fay 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 8-10 43

EAST HARTFORD (20-2)

Jaylin Palmer 0 0-0 0; Kingsley Cockburn 5 0-0 12; Austin Nwafor 3 7-12 13; Aaron Tomlinson 1 1-4 3; Justin Nwafor 7 0-2 14; Mark McCallop 0 2-4 2; Rafael Cruz 0 0-0 0; Isaiah Williams 4 6-8 16; Quinton Haughton 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 16-30 59

DARIEN 4 12 15 12—43

EAST HARTFORD 16 15 6 23—59

3-point field goals: D—Swetye. EH—Cockburn 2, Williams 2

Fouled out: D—Richter