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In a setting it had waited many years for, the Wilton High boys basketball team picked a bad time to play its worst game of the season.
Playing on their home court, the second-seeded Warriors got off to slow start and never recovered Tuesday night, losing to third-seed Danbury, 68-48, in the opener of an FCIAC semifinal doubleheader at the Zeoli Field House in Wilton.
Danbury, the defending conference champion, will now meet fifth-seed Ridgefield in the finals Thursday night (7 p.m.) at the Zeoli Field House. The Tigers upset top-seed Trumbull, 73-66, in the second semifinal Tuesday.
“We basically got out-played in every facet of the game,” Wilton coach Joel Geriak said following his team's 20-point loss. “We had a poor practice yesterday and for some reason we weren’t mentally ready tonight.”
“It’s the worst game we played all season; we played poorly and the focus wasn’t there,” Geriak added. “It’s possible that the kids got over-hyped for the game. We missed seven layups in the first quarter, got out-rebounded, and had a poor night from the free-throw line. We also are a young team from a playoff perspective, as we really have only one senior that has played in this type of game.”
“Take nothing away from Danbury; they are a good team and were the better team tonight. They didn’t do anything different than I expected ... it’s just that they got the job done and we didn’t.”
Wilton’s Andrew Smith opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, but the Hatters then went on a 16-0 run before Smith hit the Warriors' only other basket in the first quarter, which ended with Danbury ahead, 16-5.
Things didn’t get any better for Wilton in the second quarter, as the Hatters' lead grew to 33-16 at halftime.
Searching for the right combination on offense, Geriak rotated players in and out during the second half. But none of the tinkering clicked, as Danbury increased its lead to 46-24 through three quarters and then closed out the victory.
“Being down a lot with time running out I tried some different lineups to find something that worked,” Geriak said.“But also it gave me a chance to get some playoff playing time for some of our younger players, which could benefit us next season.”
Notes: Jah Joyner led the way for Danbury, pouring in a game-high 20 points. Senior co-captains Denali Burton and Javon Hernandez each added 16 points.
Smith had a team-high 11 points for Wilton.
Each team went to the free-throw line 30 times and had three players foul out. Wilton was 18-of-30 from the line, and Danbury went 15-of-30.
Wilton will now await the start of the Division II state tournament. The Warriors are seeded third and have a first-round bye before playing a second-round game at home on March 6th.
Danbury 68, Wilton 48
Danbury  16 17 13 22 — 68
Wilton  5 11 8 24 — 48
Danbury: Denali Burton 6 4-9 16; Keyon Moore 1 2-6 4; Javon Hernandez 5 4-6-16; Jaden Cook 3 0-0 6; Ramir Rivera 1 0-0 2; Marson James 1 0-0 3; Artez Taft 0 1-2 1; Jah Joyner 8 4-7 20.
Wilton: Nick Kronenberg 2 4-6 8; Kyle Hyzy 3 3-4 9; Ryan Biberon 1 3-4 5; Ryan Schriber 1 2-3 5; Tucker Walden 0 2-6 2; Zayvion Eusebe 3 2-4 8; Andrew Smith 4 2-3 11.
3-pointers: D: Hernandez 2, James; W: Smith, Schriber.