The Warriors took a 47-44 lead into the final quarter and shut St. Joseph down to come away with one their most impressive wins in years, a 67-46 triumph at the expense of the previously unbeaten Cadets, who entered the game ranked third in the state.
Wilton outscored the Cadets, 20-2, in the final eight minutes.
Wilton (3-3) played outstanding defense in the final quarter, limiting St. Joseph to one shot almost every time down the floor. That, combined with the Cadets’ cold shooting and the Warriors’ scoring in the paint and behind the three-point line, gave the hosts a huge victory.
Wilton senior co-captain Olandi LeGrand came up big under the boards at both ends of the court, as he grabbed 17 rebounds. LeGrand used good position and timing to dominate the boards and look for the outlet pass to run the floor.
St. Joseph took an early 10-4 lead, but Wilton head coach Joel Geriak inserted Matt Shifrin into the lineup and Shifrin promptly knocked down two three-pointers to put the Warriors on the comeback trail. An Eric Houska trey to end the first quarter tied the score at 20-20.
The Cadets opened the second quarter with a 6-0 run, but the Warriors answered with a 13-1 run of their own, started with a three-pointer by Weston Wilbur and two more treys for Shifrin. Wilton took a 33-27 lead into the half.
Wilton opened the second half with a 9-2 run to go up by 13, but the Cadets pressed the Warriors in the backcourt, forcing turnovers and allowing the visitors to cut the lead to 47-44 by the end of three.
“They played with a lot of heart tonight, diving for loose balls, and out-hustling our opponent,” said Geriak. “The team did just as we drew it up before the game — rebound, limit our turnovers and their second-chance points and we’ll have a chance to win, and that’s what they did.”
Houska led the Warriors’ balanced scoring with 16 points, followed by Shifrin with 14 points. Wilbur and Chris Curtis each chipped in 10 points while LeGrand had nine points and Max Maudsley eight points.
The Cadets were led by Jonathan Dzurenda with 15 points and Jake Pelletier with 12 points.