Stamford boys cruise past New Canaan
STAMFORD -- The New Canaan and Stamford basketball teams entered Thursday night's clash at Stamford High School in similar situations: Both were on a recent slide and both badly needed a victory to increase hopes of finding a way into the state tournament.
On paper, it looked as if the teams matched up fairly evenly.
Turns out they were not that even.
Stamford stormed out of the blocks, gained a significant early advantage and never looked back on its way to a 64-31 victory over visiting New Canaan.
For Stamford coach Danny Melzer, the win might have been his team's top performance of the season.
"Our intensity and execution on the defensive end was amazing; it's the best we've played all year," Melzer said. "We pushed the ball in transition better than we've done all year. That was our most complete effort of the year by far."
While he was quick to point out that his team's recent struggles are not due to a lack of desire or hard play, New Canaan first-year coach Mike Evans indicated that this one was a bit of a "head-scratcher."
"I'm kind of scratching my head after this one. We all are. We didn't not play hard; we just didn't play right," Evans said. "They pushed hard. They're all red-faced, they all went hard, there are no attitudes. Right now we just can't figure out what the problem is."
The Knights managed to build a quick 6-0 lead which was jumpstarted by a 3-pointer from Lucas Loria, who would go on to drain three from beyond the arc, all in the first quarter.
New Canaan's only two points of the opening stanza occurred on a pair of free throws from Erik Jager, and the quarter ended on a dunk by Stamford's Kenny Wright for the 14-2 lead heading into the second.
The second quarter was a draw, so New Canaan remained in a 12-point hole at the half, 27-15.
New Canaan's Zach Allen notched a layup to start the second half, but that was followed by a 15-0 Stamford run, which sealed the game. Gianni Carwin, Wright and Kweshon Askew all notched four points during the lengthy advantage.
The game's outcome was never in doubt in the fourth quarter, which allowed Melzer to empty his bench, and Angel Gonzalez sank a pair of 3-pointers for the Knights.
"That's the first game we've won this handily all year. It feels good because this has been a rough year. It's been a learning year," Melzer said. "That's been our goal the second half of the season. We want to make the state tournament. We're going to step on the floor and try to beat all four."
Both teams exited the gymnasium with identical 5-11 records, meaning that both can still qualify for states with a finish of 3-1 or better over their final four games.
"I'm not giving up on an opportunity at states," Evans said. "There are four games left, we need three wins and if we play like we did in the middle of the season we can get that done."
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Stamford 64, New Canaan 31
NEW CANAAN (5-11, 5-9 FCIAC)
STAMFORD (5-11, 5-9 FCIAC)
Gianni Carwin 5 1-2 11, Evan Antoine 4 1-1 10, Kenny Wright 4 0-0 9, Lucas Loria 3 0-0 9 Angel Gozalez 3 0-0 8, Kewshon Askew 3 0-0 6, Rich Benoit 1 2-3 4, Joe Palumbo 1 1-2 3, Errald Jordine 1 0-0 2, David Gillette 0 0-1 1. Totals: 25 5-9 64.
NEW CANAAN 2 13 4 12--31
STAMFORD 14 13 22 16--64
3-pointers: NC--Swift. S--Loria 3, Gonzalez 2, Antoine, Wright.