Boys basketball: Xavier defeats Shelton to even score

The Shelton High boys basketball team knew it would be facing a team with revenge on its mind Friday night, but wasn’t able to do anything about it. Four weeks earlier, the Gaels shocked visiting Xavier, 8-0 at the time, defeating the Falcons 43-38.

Friday night was a different story as Xavier took control right from the opening tip and cruised to an 88-53 victory over Shelton in Middletown.

“We knew it.  We talked about it,” said Shelton coach Brian Gardiner of the revenge the Falcons would be looking for. “They were on a mission obviously. We had to weather the first four minutes. We kind of did, but then it started getting away from us. Sometimes that happens.”

The Gaels (9-8) found themselves down 8-3 midway through the first quarter. Junior Jeff Stockmal (team-high 16 points) then scored on a driving layup to pull Shelton within 8-5, and as Gardiner said, it appeared at least momentarily that Shelton may have survived Xavier’s early knockout punch.

But it turned out that the Falcons (12-4) were just getting started. Xavier’s offense went on to score 15 points over the final 3:40 of the first quarter, aided by seven Shelton turnovers, to take a 23-10 lead. The onslaught continued to start the second quarter with an 11-2 Xavier run.

Matt Terrasi’s bucket off a Jack Gleason assist was all Shelton had to show offensively for nearly the first four minutes of the second quarter. The Gaels got with 40-19 on a Terrasi (seven points) free throw later in the quarter, but Xavier answered with eight straight points to make it 48-19.

“This wasn’t a good game, bottom line,” said Gardiner.

Shelton, which has already qualified for the Southern Connecticut Conference and Class LL State tournaments, will look to get back to winning basketball Tuesday night when it hosts Cheshire in Shelton’s last home game of the season.

“They are mature. They understand. They just didn’t match [Xavier’s] intensity tonight,” said Gardiner.  “We’ve got our butts kicked before this season, and we bounced back from those.  So we’ll bounce back.”