Boys hoop preview: Wilton looks to build on last year

Coming off its best season in more than a decade, the Wilton High boys basketball team opens its 2012-13 season hoping to carry last year’s momentum forward.

The Warriors finished 11-11 a year ago, earning a state playoff berth for the first time in 12 years. It was a remarkable turnaround for a team that had only won two games the prior season.

Despite losing several key players from last year’s team, along with head coach Tim Tallcouch, Wilton returns three of its top-five scorers and brings back a legacy of success.

“The confidence is there. They learned how to win last year,” said new head coach Joel Geriak. “The goal is to build on last year’s success and take it a little bit further.”

Geriak was last year’s assistant coach under Tallcouch (who is now the head coach at Newtown High School), so he is familiar with the players and everybody knows the system.

That system, which Geriak helped install last season, puts the emphasis on dribbling and driving to the basket, and playing an uptempo style. It is well-suited to Wilton’s personnel, as the Warriors are a guard-heavy team that will need to beat opponents with quickness and outside shooting.

“We don’t have much height,” said Geriak. “We have some shooters, and we have guards.”

All told, nine of Wilton’s 12 players are guards — or can play guard.

The big losses from last year are All-FCIAC East forward Chris Nugent, who led the Warriors in both scoring (15.5) and rebounding (10.3), and was second in three-pointers (16), and point guard Ian Ross (8.5 points and 2.2 assists per game, team-high 21 three-pointers), along with guard Sean Carroll.

This year’s team will be led by its four senior captains: Weston Wilbur, Max Maudsley, Olondi LeGrand and Chris Curtis.

Wilbur, a 6’4” shooting guard, was the second on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg), rebounding (6.4 rpg) and assists (2.1 apg) last season. He was third on the team in three-pointers with 15.

Maudsley, a 5’11” guard who averaged 6.3 points and 1.7 assists per game last year, was the team’s fourth-leading scorer.

LeGrand, 6’2” forward, averaged 2.7 points per game last year, while Curtis, a 6’1” swingman, averaged 1.0 points per game.

The junior class is led by 5’11” guard Eric Houska, who was fifth in scoring last year (5.9 ppg) and fourth in three-pointers (13).

The other returning varsity player is 5’10” sophomore guard Matt Shifrin, who averaged three points per game last season and had nine three-pointers.

Newcomers are 6’0” senior guard John Prinner, 6’5” junior forward Zack Laurinaitis, 6’7” junior center Peter Ciaccio, 5’10” junior guard Justin Shepard, 5’8” sophomore guard Richie Williams, and 5’10” sophomore guard Scott Shouvlin.

Geriak said any number of players can step up on a particular night and score in double figures, and the Warriors would go with “whoever has the hot hand that night.”

Shooting will be key to opening up opposing defenses, and fortunately the Warriors have no shortage of outside shooters.

“Everybody’s a three-point threat, except for Zack and Peter and Olondi. Everybody else will have the green light for a good shot,” said Geriak.

The uptempo style of play will require the Warriors to play “under control, but fast,” and they will have to try to achieve that balance as they prepare for the season opener Wednesday night at home against Westhill.

“It’s not an easy step, but we’re getting there,” Geriak said.