Pictured: Elijah Wilborn, shown earlier this season, finished with 16 points as Middletown advanced in the CCC tournament. (Photo by Paul Augeri)

Middletown’s big man came up with his biggest basket of the season Thursday night to keep the Blue Dragons moving along in the Central Connecticut Conference tournament.

Senior center Elijah Wilborn’s one-handed tip-in with 1.6 seconds left following a missed layup by Chace Petgrave gave No. 8 seed Middletown a 51-50 victory over No. 9 Farmington in a Round of 16 game at LaBella-Sullivan Gymnasium.

The Dragons advance to the quarterfinals Saturday and a third meeting against the state’s top-ranked team, Bristol Central (11am, Enfield High School), and 7-foot-2 UConn commit Donovan Clingan. The undefeated Rams (21-0) beat Lewis Mills on Thursday.

Trailing by four at halftime, Middletown surged into the lead in the third quarter and went ahead by as many as seven points.

The River Hawks rallied in the fourth quarter and held a 50-49 lead with 14 seconds left when Middletown began its last possession. Coach Eric Holley said the Dragons ran a high screen and roll, with Petgrave going to the rim.

Wilborn cleaned up his miss for what Holley called “a huge, huge win for the school.” Farmington went 15-5 in the regular season, beating perennial Top 10 team East Catholic a week ago, playing two competitive games against No. 2 Northwest Catholic, and handing 18-2 Conard one of its two losses.

“They beat Conard, they beat East Catholic, they played Northwest very, very tough,” said Holley. “So Saturday will be tough, but win or lose we’ll come out of that a lot better. We’re looking forward to what kind of run we can go on in the (Division II) state tournament.”

Middletown has won four straight after an 80-34 loss to Bristol Central on Feb. 15. The 6-8 Wilborn missed the game with an ankle sprain but has come back strong. He had 29 points and 20 rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Lewis Mills.

“Nick Duncan (of Farmington) matches Eli in size and was real physical, but Eli played well,” Holley said. “Other guys stepped up too. Omar Gutierrez had a big three and Nas McDaniel had only six points, but they were big (all in the third quarter).”

FARMINGTON (15-6)
Jordan Anthony 6 3-5 16, Jahkai Veal 1 0-1 3, Nico Augustino 0 1-2 1, Chad Rizzo 1 0-0 2, Jared Young 6 3-4 17, Nick Duncan 5 0-0 11. Totals: 19 7-12 50.

MIDDLETOWN (15-6)
Chace Petgrave 3 2-3 9, Matt Steuerwald 1 0-0 3, Tim Vaughters 4 0-0 9, Omar Gutierrez 1 0-0 3, Elijah Wilborn 8 0-3 16, Nasir McDaniel 3 0-0 6, Quadir Murphy 0 0-0 0, Marshall Butler 2 0-0 5, Caiden Byrd 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 2-6 51.

Score By Quarters
Farmington…13 13   8 16–50
Middletown…..9 15 14 13–51

3-pointers: Farmington–Young 2, Anthony 1, Veal 1, Duncan 1; Middletown–Petgrave 1, Steuerwald 1, Vaughters 1, Butler 1, Gutierrez 1.

SCC Tournament: Hillhouse 48, Xavier 42

HILLHOUSE (14-7)
Joseph Williams 5 2-2 13, Avery Sutton 2 1-2 5, Nikai Brooks 0 2-3 2, Makhi Bristow 5 0-0 12, Emanuel Brown 4 6-7 14, Timothy Coleman 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 11-14 48.

XAVIER (12-9)
Ethan Bessoni 1 0-0 2,  Colby Ciampi 5 1-2 15, Vik Vakati 1 0-0 3, Anthony Parker 5 3-4 16, Aidan Driscoll 2 0-0 4, Bobby Zdrojeski 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 4-6 42.

Score By Quarters
Hillhouse..8  5 19 16–48
Xavier……13 10 8 11–42

3-pointers: Hillhouse–Bristow 2, Williams 1; Xavier–Ciampi 4, Parker 3, Vakati 1.

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