Murph's Turf: Wilton High best-of awards for winter season

The Bulletin’s best-of awards for the recently completed 2013-14 Wilton High School winter sports season:

Play: Trailing Hartford Public, 61-59, with under 10 seconds left in a Class L state tournament first-round game, the Wilton High boys basketball team was in danger of having its season end. Following a time-out, the Warriors got the ball inside to center Peter Ciaccio. But instead of taking a shot, Ciaccio passed the ball outside to an open Scott Shouvlin. Shouvlin calmly hit a three-pointer right before the buzzer, giving Wilton a dramatic 62-61 victory.

Performance: Competing individually for the final time in his high school career, Wilton High senior swimmer Tommy Kealy was a double winner at the Class L boys state championship meet. Kealy won both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly, setting a new Class L meet-record and a new school record in the latter event. Kealy also swam on two Wilton relays that finished third at the Class L meet.

Game: Going into the annual Winter Garden Cup game, the Wilton boys hockey team did not seem to have much of a chance against Ridgefield. The Tigers came into the contest as the two-time reigning FCIAC champions and sporting a 15-4 record. Wilton, on the other hand, was 5-9-3 and barely alive for a berth in the Division II state tournament. As expected, Ridgefield carried the play — but the Tigers couldn’t beat Derek Prario. For three periods, Prario, Wilton’s senior goalie, turned away all 39 shots he faced, sending the scoreless game into overtime. Prario made four more stops in the extra session before Ridgefield got the game-winner for its 1-0 triumph in one of the most exciting games between the long-time rivals.

Comeback: When fourth-seed Greenwich opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, 20th-seed Wilton found itself behind, 46-38, in the teams’ second-round Class LL state tournament game in Greenwich. But the Warriors persevered and tied the game at 58-58 on Shouvlin’s three-pointer with 11 seconds to play. Greenwich missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime. The Warriors ran out of magic in overtime, however, as Greenwich came away with a tougher-than-expected 67-61 victory.

Female athlete: Throughout the season, Wilton’s Haley Howard proved herself as one of the state’s top girls skiers. Howard qualified for Team Connecticut by placing among the top-10 competitors at the Shoot-out Series and then finished third overall at the State Open championship meet, earning All-State first-team honors. Howard’s efforts helped the Warriors win the S Conference title during the regular season and place third at the State Open.

Male athlete: Junior Spencer Brown made his mark in the post-season, winning the boys 1,000-meter race at the Class L indoor track and field state championship meet and then placing second in the event at the State Open. Brown earned All-New England honors with a sixth-place finish in a personal-best time at the New England championships before placing seventh — and just missing All-American honors — in the one-mile run at the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet.

Coach: Exceeding expectations — that’s what head coach Joel Geriak and the Wilton High boys basketball team did this season. Following the graduation loss of many key players from the team that went 16-9 in 2012-13, the Warriors seemed headed for a comedown. But Geriak would hear none of it, giving his team four challenging goals during the pre-season. With Geriak pulling the strategic strings, Wilton met all of those goals on its way to a 13-10 season that included a berth in the FCIAC tournament for the second straight season — something the Warriors had never previously accomplished — and an FCIAC Eastern Division title — for only the second time in program history.

Team: No Wilton teams won FCIAC or state titles this winter, but the Wilton High girls basketball team came closest. Led by its junior triumvirate of Erin Cunningham, Erica Meyer and Haley English, the Warriors went 17-3 during the regular season and then reached the conference championship game for just the second time in program history. After falling to two-time defending FCIAC champ Danbury, 41-29, in the title game, Wilton won two games in the Class L state tournament before bowing out in the quarterfinals against Weaver-Hartford and ending the season with a 21-5 record. The silver lining? Wilton did not have one senior on its roster.