Boys basketball: Shelton avenges loss to Sheehan Titans

When they met in Wallingford back on Jan. 9, host Sheehan High shocked Shelton with a buzzer-beating basket. The Gaels were in the midst of a season-worst four-game slide at the time.

Fast forward to Friday night and the host Gaels did their part to ensure there wouldn’t be a heartbreak repeat. Shelton built a seven-point halftime lead and held the advantage throughout the second half for an 83-79 victory.

The Gaels matched their season-opening, season-best winning streak of three games with one to play before the postseason.

Shelton improved to 11-8 and gave itself a chance, heading into Tuesday’s visit to Berlin, to earn a first-round state playoff home game, according to coach Brian Gardiner.

Sheehan had its own three-game winning streak snapped and saw its regular slate end at 12-8.

Jakai Barnes had a career-best 19 points and Peri Basimakopoulos also scored 19 to lead Shelton.

Barnes did most of his damage in the first half, dropping in 17 of his points as the Gaels established a 43-36 lead at the break.

Basimakopoulos picked up where his teammate left off. After scoring two points in the opening two stanzas, he tallied 17 after the intermission.

Brian Belade and Martin Dominguez both scored 15.

Brain Berritto and Kevin Belden each contributed six, and Melvin Kolenovic added three.

This was Shelton’s Senior Night, and seniors Dominguez, Barnes, Belden and Berritto stepped up on a big night.

“I put it on them before the game,” Gardiner said. “I reminded them of where we were last year at this time. We were done. We were 3-17. Not many teams make a turnaround like this. It all starts with the seniors.”

“It feels really good. It was a closer game than it should have been, but we scored the heck out of the ball,” Berritto said of Shelton’s second-highest offensive effort of the campaign.

A lot of the damage was done at the free throw line.

Shelton went 22-of-33 from the stripe, highlighted by a 12-for-13 performance by Basimakopoulos who made seven foul shots in the final quarter to help close out the victory.

“They picked the wrong guy to foul,” Gardiner said.

By contrast, the Titans had only a dozen attempts, sinking nine.

The 3-point shot, eight from downtown to be exact, kept the Titans in the game.

Leading 57-51 after three quarters, the Gaels pushed the lead to double digits after Belade and Dominguez finished back-to-back transition plays with uncontested layups in the first minute of the fourth.

The Titans got back to within six, before Basimakopoulos sank two of his foul shots.

Shelton held its multi-possession lead but couldn’t pull away.

Leading by six, the Gaels added on when Belade hit a short-range jumper with 2:55 to play.

After a Sheehan free throw, Belden buried a left elbow 3-pointer for a 72-62 lead with 2:14 left.

The lead was 11 with just under a minute to go when the Titans chipped away and got to within 81-79 on a Caden Cloutier 3-pointer with eight tenths of a second to go.

A foul before the inbound kept any time from running off the clock and gave the Titans some hope, except for the fact that it sent Basimakopoulos to the line with a chance to seal the win. He made both shots, ensuring there would be no Sheehan buzzer-beater this time.

“It was awesome. Sheehan’s a really good team,” Gardiner said. “They’ve got a lot of good guards, they spread you out and they shoot the ball well. We did just enough to keep them in it and just enough to win the game.”

Shelton made five 3-pointers, including two from Barnes, and did a good job both finishing the break and scoring in the half court set.

“I think we deserved to win. I think we outplayed them, we outhustled them. I think we had more tenacity,” Gardiner said. “We played with the emotion that wins a close game like this. We’re playing our best basketball right now which is what we want.”

SHELTON 83, SHEEHAN 79 (at Shelton)

Sheehan (12-8)

Kristopher Jackson  7 1-1 15, Tyler Carmen 2 1-2 5, Caden Cloutier 3 2-3 10, Jack McDonnell 5 0-0 11, Arthur Cordes 5 1-2 15, Garrett Molampy 8 4-4 21, Brett Stasiewski 1 0-0 2

Totals: 31 9-12 79

Shelton (11-8)

Brian Berritto  3 0-0 6, Brian Belade  5 4-4 15, Peri Basimakopoulos  3 12-13 19, Kevin Belden 2 1-2 6, Melvin Kolenovic 1 2-5 3,  Jakai Barnes 8 0-1 19, Martin Dominguez 6 3-8 15

Totals: 28 22-33 83

Scoring by Quarters

Sheehan  18 18 15   28 — 79

Shelton    23 20 14   26 — 83

3-point goals: Sheehan (Cloutier 2, McDonnell 1, Cordes 4, Malampy 1); Shelton (Belade 1, Basimakopolous 1, Belden 1, Barnes 2)