Boys basketball: Wilton continues slide with loss to Danbury

The Wilton High boys basketball team had already punched its postseason FCIAC ticket, while the Danbury Hatters were looking to lock up a playoff spot, at Monday afternoon’s match in Danbury.

Danbury entered the game tied with three other teams for the final four spots to get into the playoffs, needing one win in its final two regular-season games. The Hatters totally outplayed the Warriors en route to a convincing 75-54 win — earning their spot in the FCIAC playoffs.

The loss dropped Wilton to 13-5 overall and 10-5 in the FCIAC, and dropped the Warriors’ FCIAC seed from second to seventh.

The FCIAC playoffs begin this Saturday at Fairfield Warde. The Warriors’ seeding and game time to be announced after Wednesday’s games.

Wilton closes out the regular season by hosting Fairfield Ludlowe Wednesday night at 7. It will also be is Senior Night, as the team will honor its seven seniors.

The Hatters clearly used the drive to clinch a playoff berth as their motivation in Monday’s match. If they didn’t come away with a win, they would have needed help from other teams or a win Wednesday against top-seeded Trumbull.

Danbury used its team quickness, a good inside/outside game, offensive rebounding and lockdown defense to build an early lead and never took its foot off the pedal.

“We told the team what it needed to do against them, they just didn’t,” said Wilton head coach Joel Geriak. “We told them to box out under the boards. Our frontline did, the guards didn’t, which they turned into second-chance baskets. We did a good job in denying the ball to Marcus Fox. But they worked the ball around the perimeter and knocked down threes. I subbed in players to give the starters some rest and also maybe spark some offense, but we really didn’t sustain any good offensive runs.”

The Warriors opened the season going 10-0, but since then they have dropped five of their last eight games, all to teams in the conference.

“The team just needs to focus at one game at a time and not look at the standings. We now must turn our focus to Wednesday’s game against Ludlowe and come away with a win,” said Geriak.

Wilton scored the game’s first basket, a tip-in of a missed shot from Kyle Shifrin to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. But that would be the only lead of the afternoon for the Warriors, as the Hatters came back with a 13-1 run and had a 21-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Warriors looked to get back in the game and made a push early in the second quarter and got the lead down to six. Drew Connolly poured in seven points to start the period to put the score at 24-18 in favor of Danbury. But when Cameron Snow hit back-to-back 3-pointers the Hatters had a 13-point lead, 33-20, late in the period. Danbury led 35-24 at halftime.

Danbury drained four 3-pointers in the first half, to none for the Warriors. Danbury did a good job keeping Wilton a step behind the three-point line and showed good rotation as the Warriors worked the ball around the perimeter. On the other end of the floor, Wilton seemed to be chasing the ballhandler around the outside and was a step slow in its rotation, leaving the Hatters with open looks.

The Warriors couldn’t find the answers in the second half, as the Danbury led grew to 19 after three quarters, 55-36. Danbury got scoring contributions from seven players in the quarter.

Kyle Maatallah got hot in the fourth quarter for Wilton with 12 points in the period, but when the home team’s lead reached 25 midway into the period, the lead was too much to for Wilton to overcome.

Danbury’s Javon Hernandez poured in a game-high 22 points. Connolly led Wilton with 19 points and Maatallah finished with 16 points.