Vinny DeFeo fills role, Shelton defeats Career
SHELTON —Shelton boys basketball coach Brian Gardiner had reason to be concerned when Career paid a visit to Murray Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Yes, his Gaels had won 6 of their last 7, but the last victory came down to the last second when they defeated East Haven in overtime. Plus, Career is the type of team no one wants to take on.
“Career is scrappy, athletic and they play hard,” Gardiner said after his Gaels won a 60-40 decision. “They’ve played pretty close games against some very good teams. We know we have to bring it in this league or you are going to get beat.”
Shelton improved to 8-4 and Career dipped to 2-9.
Brian Belade, one of Shelton’s big three with Peri Basimakopoulos and Melvin Kolenovic, had missed most of Shelton’s start to the campaign with an injury.
“With Belade back we were able to do different things,” Gardiner said. “He is out tonight (short-team injury). Now halfway through the season, we should step up with more confifence. We have good senior leadership and the (the reserves) feed off of that.”
Basimakopoulos did his thing with 21 points. Kolenovic had triple 8’s in points, rebounds and blocked shots. Vinny DeFeo took up the scoring load, as the sophomore guard scored 15 points.
“Vinny DeFeo is usually our sixth man,” Gardiner said. “We can’t replace what Belade does. I made a mistake early on and tried to run the stuff we had for him when he isn’t our there. Now, the guys do things that they can do.”
Shelton charged out to an 8-0 lead scoring on four consecutive trips, before coach Larry Kelley’s Panthers answered with 12 of the next 15 points to take a 12-11 after one period. Saveeon Avery had two baskets and two assists. Damon Williams had five points, including a 3-pointer.
“Lately, yes, we’ve been scrappy,” Kelley said of his team that has defeated an 8-win Jonathan Law team and fell in single digits to Fairfield Prep and Amity. “Our man to man defense has gotten better. We’re not that big to rebound, we have to continue to improve. Right now it is a dogfight.”
It was 16-all when Shelton sophomore Randy Mones came off the bench to ignite a 7-2 run that put the Gaels in front for good at 20-18 midway through the second quarter.
Mones assisted on a Basimakopoulos’ 3-pointer, hit the front end of two free throws after an offensive rebound, and then made the third pass of a sequence that ended with Kolenovic’s three.
DeFeo had two buckets in the quarter. His two steals led to another basket and a 26-20 halftime lead. Kolenovic had four blocks in the frame.
Williams’ scored all 10 Panther points in the third quarter, with a variety of shots. Shelton countered the senior’s showcase with DeFeo (6 points), Mike Callinan (3 points) and Kolenovic (3 points) for a 44-30 advantage.
“We have to find a way to win six games. It’s doable, but kids can be brittle,” Kelley said. “Confidence is a big thing with everyone in life. We’re junior heavy. We’re trying to do too much. We have a good nucleus. We need to come together for the stretch run.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Vinny DeFeo from Shelton scored 15 points. More importantly for the Gaels, his quick hands on defense led to multiple transition baskets. A sophomore, DeFeo played like a veteran in Shelton’s move without the ball offense.
“Gavin Rohlman (7 points) has been tremendous. He leads us in assists and helps handling the ball. He is skilled, athletic and does a lot of stuff that doesn’t show up in the box score.” — Shelton coach Brian Gardiner
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SHELTON 60, CAREER 40
Career 12 8 10 10 40
Shelton 11 15 18 16 60
Marion Lloyd 2 2-2 6, Damon Williams 8 0-0 17, Jose Guzman Ortiz 3 0-0 6, Mark Roman 1 1-4 3, Chris Colon 1 0-0 3, Umar Lahun 1 0-0 3, Tyrese Hinds 1 0-0 2
Totals: 17 3-6 40
Peri Basimakopoulos 6 8-9 21, Melvin Kolenovic 3 1-4 8, Gavin Rohlman 3 1-3 7, Mike Callinan 2 1-2 5, Vinny DeFeo 7 1-2 15, Randy Mones 0 3-4 3, Robert Correia 0 1-2 1
Totals: 21 16-26 60
3-Pointers: Career — Damon Williams, Chris Colon, Umar Lahun; Shelton — Peri Basimakopoulos. Melvin Kolenovic