Boys basketball: Loaded with talent, Warriors are gunning for title

The past three seasons have been one of the best stretches in the history of the Wilton High boys basketball program — and the Warriors have no plans of going anywhere but up in 2016-17.

With its top three scorers returning, and seven of the top eight back, Wilton is taking aim at the FCIAC title this season.

“Our goals this year are to get to the (FCIAC) finals and get farther in the states,” said head coach Joel Geriak, who has averaged 15 wins a season the last three years. “They’re very hungry. They have really gotten after it at practice.”

Wilton is scheduled to travel to Long Island on Saturday for the season opener at Lawrence High School.

The Warriors are coming off a 14-8 season (10-6 FCIAC) that saw them reach the FCIAC semifinals, before suffering a disappointing loss in the first round of the Class LL tournament.

As was the case last season, the Warriors will be a small and a guard-oriented squad that relies on quickness and speed to find open shots. And the three-pointer will again be the team’s primary weapon, with Wilton’s top six outside shooters returning from last season.

“The guys can shoot. That’s what we do,” said Geriak, who is in his fourth season as head coach.

Last season, the Warriors drained 144 three-pointers, hitting at a 32% clip as a team. More than half of the team’s shots were from beyond the arc.

Over the last three seasons, Wilton has averaged seven treys per game and close to 170 per season. Geriak said the Warriors should be even more dangerous this season.

“We’re deeper than last year,” he said. “We’re very balanced. I truly believe we can have five kids in double figures every night, and it could be five different players every night.”

Leading the way will be the team’s four senior captains, Jack Williams, Matt Kronenberg, Jack Wood and Drew Connolly.

Williams, Kronenberg and Connolly were the team’s top three scorers last year, combining for 45 points per game.

Williams, a 6’1” small forward, was a first-team all-FCIAC pick last season, as he led Wilton in scoring (16.5 ppg) and three-pointers (43), while averaging 5.7 rebounds, two steals and 1.5 assists per game.

Kronenberg, a 5’9” guard, was second-team all-FCIAC last year. He was second in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg), and led the team in assists (3.5 apg). He was third in three-pointers with 22.

Connolly, a 5’11” guard, was third in scoring last year (12.7 ppg), second in 3-pointers (26) and first in steals (2.3 spg), while averaging 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Wood, a 6’0” senior forward, is another returning starter who does all the little things, Geriak said. He averaged 2.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game last season, and hit 12 treys.

Wilton graduated its top inside player from last year in James Maloney (6 ppg, 7.3 rpg). That spot will be filled this year by 6’1” junior forward Kyle Shifrin, who averaged about two points and two rebounds last season as one of the first players off the bench.

“He brings a little bit of a football attitude. He’s a strong kid. He gives us a rebounding presence and has became a great leader for us,” Geriak noted.

The already deep backcourt is bolstered by two other key returners.

One is 5’7” sophomore guard Nick Kronenberg, who averaged 3.2 points per game off the bench and drained 21 treys (hitting 53% from beyond the arc).

Also back is 5’10” senior guard Sean Breslin, who averaged 2.7 points per game and nailed 18 treys (hitting at a 36% clip).

The team’s three other returners, who will all be regular contributors, are 5’10” junior guard Joe Pozzi, 6’3” junior forward Robbie Hermann and 5’9” junior guard Kyle Maatallah.

The team’s four new players are 5’10” sophomore small forward Kyle Phillips, 6’0” junior guard Scott Cunningham, 5’11” sophomore forward Ryan Schriber and 6’6” senior center Jackson Cote.

With so many returning players, Geriak expects the Warriors to hit the floor running, and he expects contributions from every player on the roster.

“I have more options. I can go 13 to 14 deep. They all can play different positions and give us different things,” he said.

Wilton’s home opener will be next Wednesday at 7 against Pomperaug.
— J.B. Cozens