Boys basketball: Wilton hopes to build off historic season
Four starters are gone from last year’s team, but the Wilton High boys basketball team isn’t going to let that stop them from building off last year’s historic accomplishments.
It just may take a while for all the pieces to fall together.
“We’re young. We’re trying to figure out where we are as a team,” said second-year coach Joel Geriak.
That said, the Warriors are looking to continue their momentum from last season, when they finished at 16-9 and reached the FCIAC semifinals and state quarterfinals.
“Our goals are still to make states and make FCIACs,” said Geriak. “Like last year, they expect to win games.”
Last season marked the first time Wilton had qualified for the FCIAC playoffs in 12 years.
A good chunk of last year’s core group is gone, in Weston Wilbur, Max Maudley, Chris Curtis, Olandi LeGrand and John Prinner.
Wilbur’s all-around talents will be tough to replace, as he averaged 13 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, and was second on the team in three-pointers with 29, earning All-FCIAC East honors.
Maudsley, the team’s point guard, averaged 10.7 points and 4.2 assists per game, while LeGrand was the team’s top rebounder at 11 per game, to go with 7.6 points per game. Curtis averaged five points per game.
The Warriors will be led by the two key returning players, 6’0” senior guard Eric Houska and 5’11” junior guard Matt Shifrin, who can both light it up from the outside.
Houska, an All-FCIAC East pick last season, has a deadly mid-range jumper and led the team in scoring at 14 points per game. He was third on the team with 24 three-pointers, and also averaged three assists and two steals per game, and shot nearly 80% from the foul line.
Shifrin, the team’s sixth man last season, averaged nearly nine points per game and led Wilton from beyond the arc with 47 three-pointers, hitting 40% of his attempts. He also shot 87% from the foul line.
Houska and Shifrin will need to carry an even bigger share of the load this season, while at the same time working to bring the new players into the fold.
“They have to learn to trust the kids they’re passing to, and they have to step up all facets of their games for us to be competitive this year,” said Geriak.
The third starter that is penciled in is 6’7” senior center Peter Ciaccio, who is a tri-captain with Houska and Shifrin. Last season, he saw action in 10 games.
The other three returning varsity players are 6’)’ senior guard Justin Shepard, 5’10” junior guard Scott Shouvlin and 5’10” junior guard Richie Williams.
Newcomers include five juniors — 6’3” forward Michael Bingaman, 6’0” guard Ryan Curtis, 6’2” forward Miles Elmasry, 6’0” forward T.J. Savviades and 6’3” center/forward Lucas Savoie.
Also new to the team is 6’0” freshman guard/forward Jack Williams, who Geriak said is going to be a special player once he adjusts to the speed of varsity basketball.
Like last year, outside shooting was a strength, as the Warriors knocked down 147 three-pointers. Geriak expects more of the same.
“We’re going to be a shooting team. We’re not big, height-wise. We’re gong to be a dribble-drive team,” he said. “Offensively, nothing’s going to change. We just have to find someone to fill the shoes of Olandi Legrand, just for his rebounding, which is a huge problem right now.”
Geriak said the Warriors will go deeper into their bench this season, with perhaps 10 players in the mix. Hopefully, Geriak finds the right recipe sooner than later.
“My job is to keep the games close and give them a chance to win, and hopefully we can come up with some big wins this year,” he said.