The undefeated start to the season for the Danbury boys basketball team appeared on the verge of tipping straight over the razor's edge Friday night against Fairfield Warde.

In the third quarter of the game at Warde, things began to unravel faster than the Hatters could imagine -- or cope with them.

A seven-point halftime lead evaporated; a scuffle in front of their bench caused two Danbury players to be ejected and, worst of all, over half the quarter had ticked away without a point scored by the Hatters.

But when they needed him most, Danbury junior guard Danyjoel Harris stepped up with nine crucial points down the stretch in the third, stopping the tailspin and propelling the Hatters to their sixth straight win to start the season, courtesy of a hard-fought 56-49 victory over the Mustangs.

"We've shown a lot of resiliency of refusing to lose," Danbury coach Casey Bock said. "We're going to shoot ourselves in the foot if we keep making mental mistakes."

Senior T.J. Jackson paced Danbury with 21 points -- 19 in the first half due to foul trouble. Harris added 12 while sophomore C.J. White chipped in with 13.

Michael Wright led the Mustangs with 12 points and 16 rebounds.

"They obviously were a little upset," Fairfield Warde coach Ryan Swaller said. "I don't know if it was us putting us so much pressure on them. Overall, they seemed like they were falling apart, but No. 2 (Harris) stepped up for them."

Down 32-25 at the half, Warde (4-3) opened the third on a 9-0 run, with Wright's 3-pointer from the left side putting them ahead 34-32.

On the next trip down the court tempers flared up in front of the Danbury bench with the teams getting in other's face. The referees broke it up quickly, but two Danbury players -- James Harrington and Washaun Hendricks -- were ejected for coming off the bench. Warde's Joe Bartolomeo also received a technical.

"It's an emotional game," Swaller said. "It was a little bump, from that point on, my player overreacted from a ball bumping him in the head. From that, because of the position where it was, it escalated more than it should have being right in front of the bench. It could have easily been nothing if it was on the other side of the court."

Said Harris, "The third quarter scuffle wasn't so much he's doing this to me ... emotions got involved and it went from there. It was nothing personal."

Warde went up 40-33 with 3:16 left in the third on a 3-point play by Joe Black to take its biggest lead, but from there Danbury rallied. Harris closed the third on a personal 7-0 run minimizing the damage and making it 42-41 going into the fourth.

In the fourth Danbury shut down Warde's offense, outscoring them 15-7 and making enough free throws down the stretch to close it out.

"I don't want to say we turn it on in the fourth quarter, but the past few games that's been our quarter," Harris said. "Some calls could have went their way, but fortunately we picked it up and ran from there."

The Mustangs -- using a variety of zone defenses -- did hold the Hatters' high-scoring offense that came in averaging a shade over 80 points to a season-low in points. However it wasn't enough as Warde was eventually undone, in part, to 22 turnovers and roughly 10 missed layups, offsetting its 18 offensive rebounds.

"They have a lot of talent at every position," said Warde's Greg Hyman, who finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. "They're loaded. They're definitely up there with St. Joe's and Trinity."


James Harrington 0 1-2 1 TJ Jackson 7 3-4 21 CJ White 5 3-4 13 Elijah Mourning 0 0-0 0 Carl Neptune 2 2-2 6 Danyjoel Harris4 4-11 12 Javonte Parker 1 1-2 3. Totals: 19 14-26 56.


Greg Hyman 4 3-5 11 Sebastian Brogan 0 0-0 0 Michael Wright 5 1-3 12 Sam Martens 2 0-0 6 Joe Bartolomeo 2 0-1 4 Max Garrett 3 0-0 6 Joe Black 2 1-3 5 Sal Siciliano 2 1-3 5. Totals: 20 6-15 49.

DANBURY 17 15 9 15--56

FAIRFIELD WARDE 12 13 17 7--49

3-pointers: D--Jackson 4; FW--Martens 2, Wright.

Fouled out: FW--Siciliano; Bartolomeo.

Technical fouls: D--Harrington (ejected), Washaun Hendricks (ejected); FW--Bartolomeo.