Shelton boys defeat Amity for sixth consecutive win
WOODBRIDGE — Amity’s Paul D. Mengold Gymnasium has traditionally been one of the toughest boys basketball road venues for Shelton going back to the rivals’ days in the SCC Housatonic Division.
Throw in a Saturday matinee start, along with the Spartans celebrating their Senior Day, and all of the makings were there for the red-hot Gaels to stumble.
“This is the toughest gym to play in,” Shelton head coach Brian Gardiner said. “You have a hard time shooting here. First five possessions, we had five good looks, 0-for-5.”
But bolstered by 29 points from Peri Basimakopoulus, Shelton overturned an eight-point second-half deficit to escape with a 61-53 victory, extending its winning streak to six games.
“This is a hard gym to play in,” Basimakopoulus said. “I’ve never won here… It just feels good in my senior year to come in here to get a win, especially on their Senior Night.”
With their outside shots not falling, they made just two in the game, the Gaels (11-4) relied on the ruggedness of Basimakopoulus down low.
“Amity played really hard,” Gardiner said. “They’re play tough. They’re scrappy… We just showed a lot of resilience in that third quarter (down by eight). We showed a lot of heart and played refuse-to-lose.
Basimakopoulus’s driving layup with 2:38 left to play, following Sebastian Holt of Amity’s three-point play, broke a 53-all deadlock, After a pair of timeouts, a Shelton turnover and a missed Amity attempt to tie or take the lead, Vinny DeFeo added a tough conversion in the paint to extend the Gael margin to 57-53.
“We made some big layups at the end,” Gardiner said.
Overall, Shelton closed the game on an 8-0 run.
“We’re an all-in team,” Basimakopoulus said. “In the beginning of the game, our threes weren’t dropping. So we went into halftime, we knew it was going to be a dogfight. We’re the type of team that is going to fight until the last whistle.”
Amity (6-10) surged ahead late in the second quarter. Three-pointers by Holt and Joe Digello capped an 8-0 Spartan flurry that staked them to a 28-24 halftime edge
“It’s our third game this week,” Amity head coach Jeff Nielsen said. “Three games in a week for a high-school kid is tough. We kind of had to reach down deep and get our second wind… They just had a little bit fresher legs than we did.”
Digello, who scored a team-high 19 points, stayed hot in the third quarter, rattling off eight consecutive points for the Spartans. That gave them a 39-31 advantage with 3:59 left in the third.
A one-handed runner by Basimakopoulus sparked 12-4 Shelton burst that tied the game at 43 after three.
“We were able to climb back in the game and get the lead,” Nielsen said. “Then unfortunately we didn’t have an answer for him (Basimakopoulus) tonight. He got a lot of offensive rebounds, a lot of putbacks.”
Shelton’s experience helped them control the fourth quarter, as Basimakopoulus, Brian Belade and DeFeo all made critical baskets.
“We have three kids on the floor that started last year and played deep into the playoffs last year,” Gardiner said. “We feed off of their energy.”
Conversely, Amity sank just one 3-pointer after hitting seven over the first three frames. The Spartans’ erratic outside shooting gave the Gaels an opening upon which they seized.
“Our three-point shooting just wasn’t falling late,” Nielsen said.
SHELTON 61, AMITY 53
Brian Belade 6 1-2 13 Peri Basimakopoulus 9 11-12 29 Melvin Kolenovic 2 1-2 7 Gavin Rohlman 1 1-2 3 Michael Callinan 1 0-0 3 Vinny DeFeo 2 0-0 4 Randy Mones 1 0-0 2 23 13-18 61
Joe Digello 7 2-6 19 Quinton Belton-Tilghman 1 0-0 3 Joe Marchitto 1 0-0 2 Ishmael Davila 5 0-0 11 Sebastian Holt 3 1-1 9 Martin Zhang 2 0-1 5 Will Rotko 2 0-0 4 21 3-8 53
S 11 13 19 18 61
A 5 23 15 10 53
Record: Shelton 11-4, Amity 6-10.