After going toe to toe in the first half with one of the top seeds in the FCIAC, the Wilton boys basketball team couldn’t answer the bell in the second half as they fell to the Danbury Hatters 62-56 on Monday night at the Zeoli Fieldhouse.
“The game plan was to pack our defense in the paint and try to limit them to one shot and let them take 3-pointers,” said Wilton head coach Joel Geriak. “Well it worked great in the first half, but we lost our focus in the second half and they made us pay for it. They hit seven threes, but I think they had 35 points on second- or third-chance baskets. You can’t give a team like Danbury that many chances to score and expect to come away with a win.”
The Hatters (12-2 in conference, 15-2 overall) got out to a 9-4 lead midway through the first quarter before the Warrior offense got on track. Wilton tied the game at 14-14 with 1:22 left in the period when Scott Cunningham drove to the hoop, hung in the air to adjust his shot and made the bucket and got fouled. Cunningham knocked down the foul shot to give the Warriors their first lead, 15-14.
The Hatters drained a 3-pointer the next trip down the floor to regain the lead at 17-15. A Kyle Hyzy basket tied the score at 17-17 as the first quarter ended.
The Warriors opened the second quarter on a 6-2 run, giving them a four-point lead at 23-19, which would prove to be their biggest lead in the game. Kyle Maatallah drove to the basket and went to his left hand for the layup, staking the Warriors to the lead. Danbury drained a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half to tie the game at 26-26 at the break.
The Warriors had success driving to the basket most of the game, but found they had to adjust their shot, as the Hatters’ big man in the middle, Denali Burton, was ready to deny them.
Danbury scored the first four points of the second half for the 30-26 lead, but a 3-pointer from Nick Kronenberg got the Warriors back to within one at 30-29. That would prove to be the closest the home team would get, as the Hatters closed out the period on a 14-4 run for a 44-33 lead after three quarters. The Hatters slowed the pace of the game on offense late in the period to keep the Warriors from making a run.
Danbury hit a 3-pointer to start the final quarter, giving the Hatters their biggest lead of the night at 14 points, 47-33. The Warriors went on a 9-0 run, capped off by a Kronenberg scoop layup, as Wilton drew to within six at 47-41.
Danbury turned the ball over eight times in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors couldn’t convert them into points, as the Hatters came away with the win. A Cunningham 3-pointer at the buzzer made the final score 62-56.
With three conference games remaining on the schedule, the Warriors are currently on the outside looking in to make the FCIAC postseason. The Warriors are 8-5 in the conference and 10-6 overall. The are ninth in the playoffs standings, one game behind Bridgeport Central, Norwalk, Fairfield Warde and Trumull.
Wilton was led by 19 points from Kronenberg, 10 from Cunningham, and eight apiece from Maatallah and Antonio Brancato.