An early lead and sustained scoring helped coach Brian Gardiner’s Shelton High boys basketball team to pull off an exciting 67-57 victory over the Masuk Panthers during Masuk’s Holiday Tournament on Dec. 30.
“We haven’t beaten Masuk in this tournament in years, so this is a big win for us,” Gardiner said. “We’d been scoring in the low 50s in recent years. One of our goals was to increase that, which we did tonight. We want to hold our opponents to 50 points or less, which we didn’t tonight, but our offense came through for us.”
Shelton jumped ahead 9-0 in the first quarter, with baskets by sophomore Casey Belade and seniors Christian Federici and Pat Murphy.
The Gaels kept Masuk off the board until the 4:28 mark, before the Panthers rallied back with a layup and two foul shots to cut the deficit to 9-7.
Mike Davis made two free throws, and Shelton broke through Masuk’s zone defense to add four points on baskets by Chris Pawlowski and Davis in the final minute to take a 17-10 lead.
Masuk’s Jay Buhlmann opened up the scoring in the second period with a 3-pointer from the right corner to start a 10-2 run interrupted only by a Murphy bucket.
Shelton rebounded with points by Murphy and fellow senior Matthew Brouillette, who put the Gaels back on top 24-20.
Sophomore guard Matt Terrasi sank a 3-pointer, and Brouillette and Davis teamed up for one final scoring drive with a minute left to go.
Brouillette stole the ball in Masuk territory and drove it the length of the court, making the shot and drawing a foul in the process.
He missed his freebie, but Davis was right there for the putback to give Shelton a 31-21 lead as the half closed out.
The Gaels kept up their momentum in the early minutes of the third quarter, opening up a 36-21 lead in the first 43 seconds of the half.
Brouillette made one shot after being fouled on an offensive rebound and the Gaels stole the ball from Masuk seconds later. The shot was off but Belade was right there for the rebound, and Shelton repeated the process seconds later, this time with Davis making the shot.
Masuk coach Tom Zultowski called a timeout, and the Panthers finally scored their first points of the half on an offensive rebound with 6:40 remaining.
Murphy answered thirty seconds later with a 3-pointer, extending Shelton’s lead to 39-23.
The teams continued to battle and Masuk kept pace, matching Shelton point for point through the rest of the third period.
Davis and Pawlowski led the scoring, and freshman guard Jeff Stockmal chipped in a 3-pointer with 2:25 left in the quarter.
Masuk’s Bryan Acevedo made a 3-pointer with 45 seconds to go, but it was Shelton who had the last word, as junior Justin Lynch held onto the ball and sank a three-point shot at the buzzer to cap off the third period.
Shelton faced a reinvigorated Panther attack in the fourth period. Acevedo sank a 3-pointer to start the scoring, and Shelton kept pace with baskets by Federici and Pawlowski.
Masuk was persistent though, and a barrage of scoring led by Acevedo brought the Panthers to within eight points. Masuk was forced to foul to stop the clock, however, and the Gaels took advantage from the stripe to hold off the Panthers.
“Pat Murphy was hitting foul shots for us, and Matt Brouillette deserves credit for doing the job he did guarding Acevedo,” Gardiner said. “We knew he would be tough to guard, but Matt did a great job.”