Boys basketball: Shelton defeats East Haven on Senior Night
The Shelton High boys’ basketball team celebrated Senior Night with a 77-58 wire-to-wire victory over East Haven before a large crowd at Murray Gymnasium Friday night.
It was the first Southern Connecticut Conference win for the Gaels (3-14 overall) in 13 tries this season, as well as their first Oronoque Division victory.
East Haven, 5-3 at one point earlier in the season including a 13-point win over Shelton, lost for the eighth straight time, falling to 5-11.
“That was a complete game,” said Shelton coach Brian Gardiner. “Start to finish. That was the first time all year we led from the beginning and never gave it up.”
After senior tri-captains Kyle Davis, Matt Hunyadi and Will Ciccone were honored before their last home basketball game at Shelton, the trio teamed with Brian Berritto and Peri Basimakopoulos when the game tipped off.
The Gaels seemed to feed off the buzz of a larger crowd, as well as a short Biddy basketball game at halftime. Additionally, “The Coach” George DeMaio was on hand to broadcast play-by-play from the contest for his WELI “Game of the Week.”
“It was a nice atmosphere,” said Gardiner. “When they knew we were the game of the week, their eyes opened up a little bit and they performed.”
And perform they did, right from the jump ball, taking a 5-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
Hunyadi opened the scoring with a trey.
The Gaels led 13-10, before closing out the first quarter on a 9-3 run.
Ciccone found Davis cutting through the lane for a lay-up, Basimakopoulos scored on a strong drive to the hoop, Davis sank a 3-pointer and Basimakopoulos hit a hanging jumper from the foul line at the buzzer for a 22-13 lead.
The second quarter saw much of the same.
The Easties got within 27-22 on an Eddie Popolizio (30 points) put back.
But the Gaels answered.
Davis made a 3-pointer, followed by a Berritto trifecta and then a steal and lay up.
East Haven scored five straight points, but Shelton tacked on seven more to end the half with a 42-27 lead.
“Typically, we’d come out in the third quarter and let them back in,” said Gardiner of the way some close games have gone for Shelton this season. “Today, we pushed it up to twenty. We said that at halftime. This the game we have to push it to twenty and we’ll be alright.”
It didn’t take long for the Gaels to push the lead either.
Shelton opened the second half on a seven-point run, all courtesy of Basimakopoulos who would finish with 22 points and seven rebounds.
And Shelton kept the lead around 20, as Davis hit his third trey and Berritto (16 points) converted a couple more drives later in the quarter.
The Gael lead would get up to as many as 24 early in the fourth quarter on a Basimakopoulos driving lay up.
East Haven would get no closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
“The thing I’m most proud of is that they just keep playing,” Gardiner said. “A bunch of teams, at this point, they just go through the motions. They ride out the season. But [we] keep playing. I keep telling them, you’ll win some games if you just keep playing hard. I was proud of them. They played hard the whole game.”
The seniors all played a role in the win, particularly Davis, who paced the Gaels with 23 points.
“They stay positive, they keep working hard,” said Gardiner of Hunyadi, Ciccone and Davis. “Great kids.”
Kevin Belden (4 points), Brian Belade (6 points) and Robert Correia also contributed to the Shelton win.
Shelton has a chance to make some more noise to end the season with three more road games left, against Amity (Tuesday), Foran (Thursday) and Cheshire (Feb. 13).
“If they just keep playing hard, we’ll get another one,” said Gardiner. “The second half of the year, we’re playing a lot better than the first half of the year.”
Gael notes: Also honored before Friday night’s game were senior managers Alli Sampson, Mia McLoughlin and Tory Searles, along with senior cheerleaders Haley Bumbala, Bree Krentzman, Hannah Distassio and Ciana Mykel…The last time the Gaels scored 77 points in a game was on Jan. 9, 2017, when Shelton scored 77 in an eight-point loss to Wilbur Cross…The Gaels shot a blistering 54 percent (27-of-50) from the field while holding East Haven to 38 percent (18-of-47). Shelton also forced 17 turnovers.
Brian Berritto 8 1-2 18, Kyle Davis 6 8-8 23, Kevin Belden 1 2-2 4, Peri Basimakopoulos 9 3-3 22, Will Ciccone 0 1-2 1, Brian Belade 2 1-1 6, Matt Hunyadi 1 0-0 3, Robert Correia 0 0-1 0
Totals: 27 16-19 77
Nate Furino 2 1-2 6, Tristen Punza 2 0-0 6, Eddie Popolizio 9 12-14 30, Ryan Spano 4 1-2 12, Luke DelGudice 0 1-2 1, Gabe Longley 1 0-0 3, Ian Reynolds 0 0-2 0
Totals 18 15-22 58
3-point goals: Shelton (Berritto 1, Davis 3, Basimakopoulos 1, Hunyadi 1, Belade 1); East Haven (Furino 1, Punza 2, Spano 3, Longley 1)
Shelton High 22 20 18 17 — 77
East Haven 13 14 13 18 — 58