Shelton High capped a very productive back-to-back nights of basketball with an easy 73-43 victory over Foran at Murray Gymnasium Friday night.
The win came about 24-hours after the Gaels knocked off Career, 62-52, for their first victory over a New Haven school since 2003.
Shelton also celebrated the 1,000th-career point by senior co-captain Brian Berritto late in Thursday night’s win.
On Friday night, the Gaels rode big nights from a pair of sophomores, Brian Belade and Melvin Kolenovic, to win their eighth game of the season and secure postseason berths to both the Southern Connecticut Conference and state tournaments.
Shelton Coach Brian Gardiner wants more than just to get into the tournaments.
“One of our biggest goals is to get home games in both the SCC and state tournaments, and I told them they had to win (Thursday) in order to make that happen,” said Gardiner. “So they got it done. So then I told them, guess what, you have to win (Friday) to make that happen.
“I think we are getting into that mentality now down that stretch of knowing how we have to play. “It took them a long time to realize how to play the whole game the right way. They’re starting to figure it out.”
Belade scored a game-high 18 points, to go with 14 points from Peri Basimakopoulos and 12 from Kolenovic.
Defensively, Kolenovic blocked 10 shots, a school record. He also pulled down 16 rebounds for a triple-double.
“He’s a presence,” Gardiner said of his 6-foot-6 center. “That’s nice to have.”
A slow start saw Shelton trail 6-2 two-plus minutes in. The Lions (4-13), who had beaten Shelton earlier in the season, made a point to try and take Berritto out of the game offensively with a box-and-one.
The Lions were successful in that regard, limiting Berritto to just seven points. But the rest of the Gaels started to make Foran pay for the gimmick defense midway through the first quarter.
Kevin Belden (9 points, 5 rebounds) started a nine-point Shelton run with a lay-up, and Basimakopoulos capped it with a three-pointer for an 11-6 Gael lead.
After a Foran bucket, Shelton went on a 13-4 run to put some space between it and the Lions, 24-10.
The only thing holding Shelton (8-7) back was its free throw shooting, as the Gaels made just 3-of-16 from the charity stripe in the first half. It still led 26-15 at halftime.
The Gael offense started to heat up in the third quarter. Belade scored 10 points while Kolenevic added six as Shelton outscored Foran 23-12 in the period.
“I told Belade yesterday, I’m going to give you the ball, and now you’re going to have to make some plays so we can do some other things for Berritto,” said Gardiner. “He can’t just handle the ball all the time. Belade’s a talented kid. If he can play like [tonight], it takes a lot of pressure off Berritto and frees him up, too.”
Up 63-35 midway through the fourth quarter, Gardiner went exclusively to his bench.
Highlights included four points by reserve center Gavin Rohlman, two points each for Jakai Barnes and Mike Callinan, and the first varsity basket for freshman Vinny Defeo.
Gardiner likes the way his team is coming together at it enters the stretch run.
“This team lost so many games (last season), it took them more time than I thought this year to get the winning mentality,” said Gardiner. “Now they’re starting to figure it out a little bit. It’s nice to see.”
The Gaels travel to Fairfield on Tuesday to take on Fairfield Prep at Alumni Hall on the campus of Fairfield University. The Jesuits knocked off Shelton 50-41 in mid-March.
Shelton returns home Friday night to host Branford, a team Shelton edged 49-46 earlier this season.
Both teams will face a Shelton squad that is gaining confidence game-by-game.
“If we keep playing like this and understanding what to do on both sides of the floor, we’re pretty tough,” said Gardiner.
Gael notes: Gardiner was not sure if another Shelton player has ever recorded a triple-double before, but was all but certain it has not happened in the last 25 years at the very least.
SHELTON 73, FORAN 43
Michael Simonelli 2 1 1-2 8, Ethan McVoy 0 1 0-0 3, Richard Prosser 0 2 0-2 6, Tyler Griffin 0 2 4-4 10, John Shannon 1 1 0-0 5, Luca Marinelli 1 0 1-2 3, Jason Giambra 0 1 3-4 6, Christian Piscitelli 0 0 2-2 2
Totals: 4 8 12-15 43
Brian Berritto 3 0 3-10 7, Brian Belade 4 3 1-1 18, Peri Basimakopoulos 2 3 1-2 14, Kevin Belden 3 1 0-0 9, Melvin Kolenovic 5 0 3-5 13, Robert Correia 0 0 0-0 0, Jakai Barnes 1 0 0-1 2, Mike Callinan 0 0 2-2 2, Gavin Rohlman 2 0 0-0 4, Vin Defeo 1 0 0-0 2, Jay Cimmino 0 0 0-0 0
Totals: 21 7 10-21 73
Scoring by quarters
Foran 8 7 12 14 — 43
Shelton 16 10 23 24 — 73
3-point goals: Foran (Simonelli 1, McVoy 1, Prosser 2, Griffin 2, Shannon 1, Giambra 1); Shelton (Belade 3, Basimakopolous 3, Belden 1