BRISTOL - As a senior at Bristol Central High School in 2014, Joey DeFillippi had the ball in his hands with a chance to send the game into overtime in the Class L state semifinals against Career Magnet Academy.
DeFillippi did so, knocking down a 3-pointer in the big moment.
While the Rams ended up losing 66-61 in overtime, DeFillippi’s final game donning the Bristol Central colors and the last time he’d knock in a clutch shot at the high school level was the ending to a stellar career and a sign of things to come at the next level.
“That was probably one of the biggest games of my life,” recalled DeFillippi, who scored a team-high 16 points in the game despite dealing with a knee injury. “The crowd, the fans and everything. We had both Central and Eastern fans there for us. It just brought the community together.”
Now, four years later, the 5-foot-9 DeFillippi is still doing damage late in games for Mount Ida College in Newton, Mass. and just reached the 1,000 point scoring benchmark.
It came during a close game against Emmanuel College. The shot that put him to 1,000 points was a game-clinching 3-pointer in overtime.
“He deserves it,” Mount Ida head coach Brian Cerone said. “He works on his game. He’s always shooting after practice. He’s always the last guy to leave the gym. He really focuses. When we do our film sessions, he’s zoned in trying to learn every day. He literally has improved every year here. [Him] getting 1,000 points was, to be honest, not really a surprise. He’s been a consistent scorer from day one.”
As the leading scorer for Mount Ida, averaging 14.4 points per game this season, DeFillippi is the go-to scorer and one that has showcased his desire for the ball in big situations as he has put together multiple buzzer beaters throughout his years with the Mustangs.
Now with the 1,000-point mark goal accomplished - he also recently went over the 1,100-point mark against Anna Maria - DeFillippi and Mount Ida are looking to continue improving. Since DeFillippi walked onto campus in his freshman year, the Mustangs have improved on the floor each season.
In his first year with the Mustangs, the team finished the season 8-18. During his sophomore year the team saw a slight improvement but still had a losing record at 11-15.
Last year, his junior season, it was the biggest step the program has taken in years as Mount Ida finished 17-10 and lost in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference semifinals.
Much of the improvement has been put on DeFillippi’s shoulders as he was the first commit the Mustangs received when coming out of high school. That freshmen class consisted of 13 players at the time, seven of which are still with the program.
“I remember his name on the board pretty much that whole season when he was a senior at Bristol Central,” Cerone said.
While DeFillippi has been the guy for Mount Ida, there are still goals ahead.
One of which is the Mustangs beating rival Lasell College, something they haven’t done during DeFillippi’s career.
After having the experience playing in the Central and Eastern rivalry in high school, DeFillippi’s comfortable in rivalry games but a one-sided rivalry isn’t something DeFillippi is used to as the Rams and Lancers had battles on the court during his time at high school.
“With Central and Eastern there’s something special about the Bristol rivalry,” DeFillippi said. “[This is] something different in a good way.”
DeFillippi and Mount Ida will look to get that win against Lasell in the final meeting between the two this season at home on February 3 and are hoping to get to the GNAC finals and make an NCAA tournament appearance.
Regardless, as a 1,000-point scorer and the all-time record holder for 3-pointers for the Mustangs, DeFillippi has continued his growth on the basketball court and has become an even better scorer with the time dedicated to honing his craft.
As his career nears a close with the Mustangs and they look to make a postseason run, DeFillippi will play a pivotal role in how the rest of the Mount Ida season goes.
For opposing teams, when the clock is winding down and DeFillippi has the ball in his hands, it’s as scary as it gets for a guy that has been fueled by his lack of height and one that doesn’t back down from a challenge.
“Looking back I’ve worked so hard every summer,” DeFillippi said. “I hope it pays off in the end. I want to show Bristol and whoever looks up to me that anything can be done with hard work. On the court, I’m a smaller guy so I have to find ways to score and find ways to contribute. But through hard work anything can be done.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org