Wrecker cagers fall to tall St. Joe's
Height and athleticism -- especially the former -- make a difference in basketball. That seemed to be the fate of the Staples boys basketball team Monday in a 70-60 home loss to St. Joseph.
St. Joseph, who had two 6-8 starters in senior co-captain Oscar Assie and junior Timajh Parker, coupled with 6-8 junior backup Patrick Hopkins, raised its record to 15-1, 13-1 in the FCIAC, dominated Staples (13-5, 12-4) inside.
"Height made a difference," Wreckers Coach Colin Devine stated.
Assie (13 points), Parker (16 points) and Hopkins (four points) helped the Cadets garner many second-chance, third-chance and sometimes, fourth-chance opportunities under the basket, which produced many points on putbacks off of the offensive glass.
No one can fault Staples' effort under the glass because it was tenacious there and boxed out, especially 6-0 senior tri-captain center Jake Felman (eight points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, three forced turnovers, one charge drawn) leading the way, but there's only so much a team can do with a 6-0 center.
"It was a battle," Felman said. "They have great players who are on their way to playing Division I college basketball. When they didn't make layups, they'd kick it out to their outside shooters and that was the difference in the game."
St. Joseph senior co-captain Brandon Jones (16 points) hit two 3-pointers to lead his team's offense. Classmate Jake Fulton (eight points) nailed two treys and junior James Jennings (eight points) also connected for a 3-pointer.
The Wreckers did well from outside with senior tri-captain Luke Yeager (11 points, five rebounds, eight assists, three steals) knocking down three treys. Yeager also got inside and grabbed a few rebounds.
"We boxed out well but they have other weapons besides height," Yeager said. "We feel we beat them if we play them again."
Staples fell behind many times, starting at 9-0 and 13-5 in the first quarter. The determined Wreckers came back and cut it to two, 16-14, when sophomore Pete Rankowitz (11 points, three rebounds, one assist, one forced turnover) swished a 3-pointer from 40 feet out to beat the first quarter.
This gave Staples momentum going into the second quarter but the Cadets altered many shots and the Wreckers missed their fair share of layups. Staples senior tri-captain Gabe Seidman (13 points, five rebound, eight assists, one steal, three forced turnovers) missed a layup when Assie altered his shot and grabbed the rebound, which led to a Parker layup.
Senior D Scanlan (six points, two rebounds, three forced turnovers, one tieup, one charge drawn) swished the first of his two 3-pointers to pull the Wreckers within one, 18-17, but they never got closer.
St. Joseph led 30-23 at the break and 46-32 after three quarters with its lead peaking at 18, 58-40 with 4:21 remaining in the game. Staples cut it to eight, 62-54, with Rankowitz scoring on a putback off the offensive glass and hitting layups from Yeager and Felman. Yeager fueled the comeback attempt with an interception off of Scanlan's forced turnover. The Wreckers forced seven turnovers in the second half while committing six. Overall, both teams had 12 turnovers.
Jennings broke the surge with two free throws. Junior Mike Argosh (eight points, four rebounds) pulled Staples within nine, 66-57, after canning his second 3-pointer of the game. Overall, the Wreckers connected for nine treys. Senior Rob DiBartolomeo (three points, one rebound, one assist, one forced turnover) and sophomore James Frusciante (one rebound) also contributed for Staples.
"We played hard for 32 minutes and kept our defensive intensity up, but you have to tip your cap to [Cadets] Coach [Vito] Montelli, there's a reason why he's the winningest coach in the State of Connecticut," Devine said.
Yeager said, "We fought hard to the end and showed he have pride. There's no quit in this team and we hope to use it when we play them again."
The Wreckers close out the regular season with road games at Fairfield Ludlowe next Monday and Greenwich next Wednesday.
"We have the most unselfish team in the state," Devine said. "We have two games ahead of us. We'll regroup and bounce back. We played our best at the end of the season for the last four years and we hope to continue this trend."
Felman said, "We just don't want to win the last two games, we want to play good basketball, win by double digits and do well in the playoffs, which is our goal this year. We feel we can beat St. Joe's [in a rematch] if we play our game and don't allow easy layups, which isn't easy."