Gael defense leaky in Masuk tournament

(Kyra Palange) Shelton High freshman Casey Belade is guarded by Masuk High sophomore Bryan Acevedo at the top of the key in the Panthers’ 64-52 victory on Dec. 28.

The Shelton High boys basketball team entered the 15th annual Masuk Holiday Tournament with a 3-1 record and a load of confidence.

Coach Brian Gardiner had a quick response to why the Gaels will take a 3-3 record into the New Year, after dropping games to Bunnell of Stratford and the host Panthers in Monroe.

“We scored enough points,” he said after Shelton lost 64-42 to Masuk in the consolation game on Friday night. “But our defense this week has been atrocious. Giving up 50 points or less is our goal; 60 or higher and we are in trouble.”

Shelton dropped an 80-70 decision to Bunnell of Stratford in the first round of the tournament on Thursday.

It was the fourth straight game that the Bulldogs reached the 80-point mark.

Things were pretty much on target at 14-13 Masuk after one quarter.

Patrick Murphy opened the game with the first of his four 3-pointers and the Gaels did a good job distributing the ball in the period.

Mike Davis took the ball to the hole for a bucket and then the junior guard dished off to Craig Packnick, who buried a jumper from the foul line for a 7-4 lead.

Christian Federici’s putback extended the lead to five, before Masuk (1-3) used multiple transition baskets to take a 14-11 lead.

Packnick found Chris Pawlowski open on the opposite block with a quick pass to close the deficit to one at the break.

Federici had five rebounds in the frame before garnering some quick fouls in the second session that limited his time the rest of the way.

The game took on a racehorse quality in the second quarter, which was won by Shelton 18-15.

Packnick had two free throws off a rebound and Ben Malay scored on a breakaway off a Davis steal and assist.

Murphy took a pass from Davis and nailed a corner jumper before Malay made a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer on a pass from Pawlowski.

Packnick’s screen-and-roll bucket off another Davis assist ran Masuk into a timeout with Shelton in the lead 25-22 with 4:19 left in the first half.

The Gaels weren’t to be denied.

Murphy (14 points) hit a jumper off of Davis’ penetration of the lane. Davis added a clear-out drive and bucket before he tacked on a free throw after the buzzer for a 31-29 halftime lead.

Masuk shot the lights out in the third period when the Panthers went on a 19-10 run.

After making one 3-pointer in each of the first two periods, the Panthers knocked down four treys in the final three minutes of the third stanza, and tacked on two more to start the final frame.

Shelton didn’t score from the field until two minutes were left in the third, when Packnick (10 points) knocked down a pull-up jumper from the foul line.

Murphy added a trey off one of Davis’ eight assists, before Davis made three straight from the line to close the deficit to seven points at 48-41 with one period remaining.

Casey Belade scored on a baseline drive to make it a five-point game, and Justin Lynch buried a jumper but Masuk stayed hot and took the final stanza 16-11.

Malay scored 19 points for the Gaels in the loss to Bunnell.

Federici scored 15 points, Belade had 14, Pawlowski nine and Packnick eight.

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