Boys basketball: Warriors fall to Norwalk on late bucket
If you ask Wilton boys basketball head coach Joel Geriak how many check marks he had on his score sheet of what his team accomplished on Wednesday night, he’d tell you the piece of paper was blank.
The Norwalk Bears (2-3) came to Zeoli Fieldhouse and left with a 63-61 win in a very closely-played game.
Tyrique Langley got a step on his defender as he drove the lane for a layup with three seconds left for the game-winning bucket. Wilton put up a desperation shot as the buzzer sounded, but it fell short.
“We had a terrible practice yesterday and that carried over to tonight’s game,” said Geriak. “We showed no mental toughness, no energy, and had no senior leadership. We put up some crazy shots, did a poor job on the boards, didn’t shoot well from the free-throw line, and no one helped out on defense to stop them from driving the lane. I think that just about covers it.”
The Warriors (3-2) will have to do whatever it takes to find their game, as they are back on their home court on Friday against New Canaan, and they’ll have to do it without the benefit of a practice tomorrow as the school is closed due to the pending snow storm.
Wilton got off to a good start on Wednesday, knocking down five 3-pointers early in the first quarter to take a 23-14 lead. The nine-point lead would be the largest lead by either team on the night, as the match turned close after the first quarter.
Scott Cunningham and Nick Kronenberg both had two threes and Kyle Maatallah added one in the period. Kronenberg’s threes were from long range from the top of the key. The Warriors led 23-17 at the end of one.
The Bears came out in the second quarter with six straight points to tie the game at 23-23 in the first 40 seconds of the period.
Wilton’s shooting went cold in the second quarter and it couldn’t take advantage of Norwalk turnovers or get offensive rebounds. The Warriors only tallied seven points on three baskets in the quarter. Norwalk didn’t fare much better, scoring only 12 points, as Wilton went into the half with a 30-29 lead.
The Warriors were driving to the basket, but put up off balance shots, with no one in position for the rebound. A lot of the credit goes to Norwalk’s Xavier Vines for forcing the Warriors to adjust their shots due to his down-low presence.
In the second half neither team could make a run. Wilton’s biggest lead in the second half was four points after Cunningham hit a 3-pointer to start the final quarter at 49-45. Norwalk’s biggest lead was three points, 45-42, late in the third quarter.
The game was tied 10 times in the second half. Norwalk’s first lead in the fourth quarter came with 29 seconds left, 61-59.
Wilton was led by Cunningham’s 24 points. But after the game his stats didn’t matter; he knew there were things he and his teammates could have done better.
“Really can’t explain our play tonight. We didn’t practice well yesterday and we didn’t bring what we needed to bring to the court tonight to win,” said Cunningham. “We got out of our rhythm and started pushing the ball and we went cold on offense. We just didn’t get it done tonight. But we have to get this performance out of our heads and get focused on our next game Friday, and knowing we won’t be able to practice tomorrow to work on things.”
In addition to Cunningham’s 24 points, Antonio Brancato had 15 points and Kronenberg added 11 points. Wilton was 14-for-23 from the free-throw line in the game, while Norwalk was 10-for-16.
Joe Benincaso led the Bears with 21 points, followed by Langley with 14 points, Vines with 13 points, and Zyaire Sellers with 12 points.