Boys basketball: Wilton shows off depth in rout of Vikings

The Wilton High boys basketball team used a 17-2 run in the final six minutes of the second quarter in a dominant 78-48 win over the Westhill Vikings on Friday night at the Zeoli Fieldhouse.

With the score tied at 18-18, Robbie Herman was in the paint with his back to the basket and kicked the ball out to Scott Cunningham on the wing. Cunningham drained the team’s fifth 3-pointer of the game for a 21-18 lead, setting the 17-2 run in motion.

The Wilton run was fueled by Viking turnovers that the Warriors converted into baskets, something they couldn’t do in the first quarter. Westhill committed five turnovers in the first quarter and seven more in the second. The run put the Warriors ahead 35-20 at the half.

The game also saw the return to the court by senior co-captain Jack Williams, who was able to return to action earlier than expected.

“I got good news for the medical staff early today and I told the coach I was cleared to play,” stated Williams. “It felt great to get back out there with my teammates and play some ball.”

Wilton head coach Joel Geriak had Williams on a so called “pitch count” and limited his playing time.

“We played great defense as a team and our rebounding drills that we go through in practice paid off tonight,” he said. “We look to find a body and get in position for the rebounds.”

Tonight’s game was the second of the season for the Warriors (2-0), but it was the season opener for the Vikings and at times in looked it.

Sean Breslin opened the game’s scoring with a 3-pointer, but both teams’ shooting went cold. The Vikings’ first basket, also a 3-pointer, tied the game at 3-3 with 4:37 to play in the first quarter. The lead changed hands nine times in the period, with Westhill holding a 13-12 lead after one quarter. Wilton was getting good looks from the three-point line but couldn’t get them to fall early in the game.

Westhill’s J’ani Graham went off the glass for a two-point basket to open the second quarter and up the Vikings’ lead to 15-12, but the storm was about to hit.

Back-to-back threes by Cunningham and Nick Kronenberg put the Warriors back on top 18-15. A Viking three tied the game at 18-18 and from there on the Warriors put in high gear and took control of the game. Senior co-captain Matt Kronenberg led the Warriors with 11 points in the first half, while Cunningham added eight points.

Westhill came out of the halftime break and made a run on the Warriors 15-point halftime lead. It was Westhill’s turn to capitalize on Warriors turnovers. Three consecutive Wilton turnovers were converted into Westhill baskets and the Vikings opened the second half on an 8-0 run to cut the Wilton lead to seven.

Breslin’s 3-pointer put an end to the to the visitor’s comeback attempt and jump-started the Warriors, who closed out the third quarter on a 21-7 run. Six Warriors had points in the third quarter run, led by six points off two 3-pointers from Breslin. Wilton lead was 21 after three quarters 56-35.

“Breslin’s shot was huge for us, It stopped their run, calmed us down, and got us back on track,” said Geriak. “You got to see the depth of this team tonight. This will make it tough for our opponent to focus on just one player, as at all times we have several players on the court who can shoot the three, shoot a pull-up jumper, or drive to the basket. On defense we switched to a 1-3-1 set and that changed the pace of the game and forced some of their turnovers.”

Geriak subbed out some of his starters in the final eight minutes but the team kept up their scoring pace. Wilton outscored Westhill 22-13 in the fourth quarter for the 78-48 win. Cunningham scored nine straight Warrior points in the period.

Cunningham and Matt Kronenberg paced the Warriors with 17 points each, followed by nine points for Breslin, seven points for Drew Connolly, and five points apiece for Williams, Nick Kronenberg and Joe Pozzi.

All 14 Wilton players saw playing time and 12 of them contributed points.

Graham had 15 points to lead the Vikings.