Boys basketball: Warriors pull away from Cadets, 76-46

The St. Joseph Cadets came into Tuesday night’s game not having tasted victory all season.

Wilton head coach Joel Geriak wanted to keep things that way — warning his players not to look past the Cadets. Although the Cadets were 0-8, two of their losses were by two points or less.

St Joe’s held tough in the first half, with Wilton taking a 29-21 lead into halftime. But the Warriors came out running and gunning in the third quarter, outscoring the Cadets 29-7, which included a 21-0 run to close out the period.

Wilton (6-2) kept the upbeat style play in the fourth quarter to come away with the 76-46 win at Zeoli Fieldhouse.

“We didn’t want to look past them. We wanted to come out fast and strong to get an early lead,” said senior co-captain Kyle Maatallah. “We came out in the second half and pressed them, which created turnovers and we were able to convert into scores, and we pushed the ball up the court, getting several fast-break baskets.”

Maatallah led the Warriors with 17 points, but overall the scoring was distributed throughout the lineup.

“We’re always trying to move the ball around looking for the open man. We have a lot of trust in each other and play with confidence knowing that we have several players who can lead the team each night.”

The Warriors jumped out to a fast 10-2 lead, as Maatallah scored the game’s first five points, followed by a putback basket by Robbie Hermann and a 3-pointer from Antonio Brancato. Wilton led 12-6 after one quarter. The Warriors dominated the offensive glass in the period, holding the Cadets to only one shot each time down the floor.

The Cadets knocked down a 3-pointer to start the second quarter to cut the Warrior lead to 12-9, but Wilton maintained the lead the entire quarter and were up 29-21 at the half.

Scott Cunningham drained three 3-pointers in the second quarter, giving the Warrior six 3-pointers in the first half.

The teams came out of the break and traded baskets to start the second half. With the Warriors ahead 35-28, Wilton put on the running shoes and starting pressing the Cadets’ inbound passes. The Warriors’ play led to a 21-0 run to end the period with a commanding 56-28 lead.

Five different Warriors scored points in the run, led by Brancato with six points.

St. Joseph opened the final quarter on a 9-0 run with the aid of two Wilton turnovers, to cut the Wilton lead to 19 points. Geriak called a time-out to settle his team and the Warriors closed out the game on a 20-9 run for the 76-46 final.

Geriak, who is a student of the game and goes into each game knowing his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, again adjusted his starting lineup to match up against St. Joseph and shut down its inside threat.

Geriak was also fortunate to sub in his offensive and defensive specialists after foul shots.

“Our game plan was to attack the rim, play pressure defense, wear them down, and try to contain their inside threat, Gavin Greene,” said Geriak. “Greene is great around the basket so we tried to deny him the ball and get him away from the rim. We got good scoring balance tonight, with some players going cold from three-point land, but we play as a team and we have several players who can lead the way. Our big men inside, Kyle Shifrin and Hermann, did a nice job under the boards and helped fuel our fast breaks.”

In addition to Maatallah’s team-high 17 points, Brancato hit for 16 points and Cunningham, who hit five 3-pointers, had 15 points. Herman added eight points and Shifrin chipped in with seven points.

Paul Fabbri had a game-high 20 points for the Cadets.