Shifrin leads Wilton boys hoop team to win in opener (updated)
The Wilton High boys basketball team turned a 23-20 halftime lead into a 58-44 rout over Darien on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams at the Zeoli Fieldhouse.
Wilton, which led 37-30 after three quarters, used a 17-4 run in the final quarter to build a 20-point lead with less than four minutes to play.
Co-captain Matt Shifrin led the way for the home team with a game-high 20 points. Shifrin drained all three of his attempts from three-point land and was seven-of-nine from the foul line. He hit two technical foul shots to give his team a 54-34 lead and put the game out of reach.
"It's great to open the season with a win and get off on the right foot," said Shifrin. "We settled for too many outside shots tonight. We need to play more of an inside/outside game and that, in turn, will give us better looks on the perimeter. We're an undersized team, so we're going to take a lot of threes. We need to control the tempo of the game."
Lucas Savoie, who was five-for-six from the foul line, and Richie Williams each added nine points, and co-captain Eric Houska chipped in with eight points. Houska got into early foul trouble, forcing him to the bench for most of the first half.
All 12 Wilton players on the roster saw playing time and nine of them scored. The Warriors knocked down nine three-pointers in the game.
Wilton didn't get off to a scintillating start in the season opener, as Darien took a quick 4-0 lead on two baskets by 6'11" center Chima Azuonwu — the second a dunk over a Wilton player. Add in Houska picking up two fouls in the first minute of play, forcing him to the bench, and the Warriors were in an early hole.
"We came in with our game plan and a minute into the game I had to change it up due to Houska's foul trouble," said Wilton coach Joel Geriak. "I wanted to use Houska to take away their scoring threat, Matt Staubi, but I had to change it up."
Wilton did come right back on threes by Shifrin and Williams. Darien led 13-10 after one, but Azuonwu also picked up early fouls that limited his playing time.
The game was tied midway through the third quarter, but a three-pointer by Michael Bingaman — his only basket of the game — gave the Warriors the lead for good at 28-25.
Wilton used its deep bench to wear down the Blue Wave. The Warriors clearly out-hustled Darien and played with confidence while keeping their focus. Wilton turned the ball over only seven times in the game while Darien committed 17 turnovers.
"Again this year we're undersized, so we have to out-hustle our opponent and play smart in order to win," said Geriak. "We did a great job rebounding the ball against their big man in the middle, as the kids executed our boxing-out scheme perfectly."
Peter Ciaccio led the Warriors with seven rebounds and two blocked shots, and Bingaman added five boards. As a team, Wilton was 17-of-22 from the foul line, including 14-of-16 in the fourth quarter.
Staubi paced the Blue Wave with 18 points, hitting four-of-six three-point attempts.