Brian Berritto newest member of 1,000-point club
Senior Brian Berritto became the seventh Shelton High boys’ basketball player to reach the 1,000-point milestone on Thursday, Jan. 31.
Berritto reached the 1,000-point mark on a fourth quarter putback basket that helped the Gaels defeat Career Magnet, 62-52, at Murray Gymnasium.
“I just wanted to get it out of the way,” said Berritto, who scored 25 in the Career victory, Shelton’s first win over a New Haven school since 2003 “Now we’re focused on winning.”
Rafael Cardoso (1999 graduate) tops the all-time Shelton boys’ basketball list with 1,430 career points. The select group also includes Tyler Turtoro (2006), Jeff Stockmal (2017), Joe Sedlock (1969), Peter Kasper (1991) and Joe Lucas (1983).
The ride to 1,000 points was a roller coaster for Berritto, who also excelled on the gridiron for Shelton the last two seasons as a two-way player.
It has included highs for sure, including 16 points in his varsity debut against Lyman Hall as a sophomore, a 71-57 victory over the Trojans.
He got to play with his brother, David, that season, something Berritto calls one of the highlights of his career. David and oldest brother Chris have had a big influence on Berritto since his earliest basketball days.
And there was Berritto’s fast-break, buzzer-beating scoop layup that lifted Shelton to a 50-48 upset over FCIAC champion Ridgefield in the Class LL state tournament his sophomore year, Shelton’s first state tourney win in 16 years.
“Big time players make plays in big moments and that’s what he is and that’s what he did,” said Shelton coach Brian Gardiner. “Brian understood he could get all the way to the basket and didn’t have to rush that shot.”
Shelton finished Berritto’s sophomore season with a 14-9 record, its best season in recent memory.
There have been lows, too, both on and off the court.
His uncle, Ron Russell, passed away suddenly between Brian’s sophomore and junior year. Berritto considered Russell to be one of the important people in his life, right there with his parents Carolyn and Mark, and his brothers.
The 2017-18 season was a difficult one for Berritto and the Gaels. Shelton went 3-17 with six of the losses by four points or less, or in overtime.
Berritto still managed to be one of the leading scorers in the Southern Connecticut Conference last year at just under 20 points per game, but was snubbed from both the first and second All-SCC basketball teams, a total of 26 players.
Not making All-SCC “Definitely motivated me for this season,” said Berritto. “I thought I should have gotten it, but it is what it is. It just made me want to work harder and have a better season than last year.”
Berritto stepped up his effort since the end of last season, according to Gardiner, both personally and as a team leader.
“Brian has stepped up his leadership from a vocal standpoint,” Gardiner said. “He will speak up in practice to make sure his teammates are doing things the right way. He will speak up pre-game and in huddles to keep us focused.
“Brian does drills the right way. He understands that if he does things the right way, everyone else will follow. So he has made it a point to lead by example as well as with his voice.”
Berritto want to play basketball in college.
“He worked hard in the off-season to improve,” Gardiner said of Berritto reaching that goal. “Brian really committed to the weight room; which has been important. He has played AAU, he never misses a summer league game, he trains on his own and with his brother — he’s always looking to improve.”
Opponents have taken notice.
“I feel this year he is shooting the ball really well and when he’s on he is a nightmare to contain,” said Joe Gaetano, coach of SCC rival Sheehan.
Three-quarters of the way through the 2018-2019 season, the work Berritto and his teammates have put in is paying off.
Shelton is currently 8-7 in a tough SCC Oronoque Division that includes No. 4 ranked Notre Dame-West Haven, Fairfield Prep and Career.
Berritto has led the charge, averaging more than 21 points per game despite being the focal point of the other team’s defense.
“We worked very hard in the off-season in order to prevent another unsuccessful year,” said Berritto. “We wanted to put the 3-17 season far behind us.”
The night after he scored his 1,000th point, Shelton defeated Foran 73-43 to qualify for both the SCC and state tournaments.
The Gaels are in a far different place this season than they were a year ago.
“The hard work, yes, it has paid off,” said Berritto. “We look a lot better. We have better chemistry. We’re getting there.”
Regardless of how the final weeks of his high school basketball career play out, Berritto has made his mark on Shelton basketball.
“Not only is Brian a great basketball player, he is a great person,” said Gardiner of his co-captain. “He treats everyone with respect, he does well in school, he makes good life decisions. He’s everything you could ask for.
“Brian’s not only the best player on the floor, but he is as good off the floor. He’s the type of person anyone would want to be the face of their team. He’s a great example for the younger players to follow.”
Shelton High Boys’ Basketball 1,000 Point Club
Player Graduation Year Career Points
Rafael Cardoso 1999 1430
Tyler Turtoro 2006 1335
Jeff Stockmal 2017 1316
Joe Sedlock 1969 1060
Brian Berritto 2019 1014*
Peter Kasper 1991 1005
Joe Lucas 1983 1000**
**Exact total not known