Shouvlin's late trey sends Wilton past New Canaan

Friday night wasn’t the first time that the Wilton High boys basketball team has needed Scott Shouvlin to come up big at the right time.

Shouvlin hit a three-pointer in the opening round of the state tournament as time expired to give the Warriors a win last season, and he hit another shot against Greenwich to send a game into overtime.

Shouvlin worked his magic once more Friday night at the Zeoli Field House to lead Wilton to a 61-60 win over the Rams. With 1:37 remaining in the game, Shouvlin’s three-pointer from the corner found the bottom of the net for his only points of the game, putting Wilton ahead to stay at 61-60.

The Rams came down the floor and missed a shot, with Wilton's Matt Shifrin ripping down the rebound with just over a minute to play.

Wilton then went into a stall and New Canaan, which at that point had committed only four team fouls in the second, was forced to foul three times to send the Warriors to the foul line. Shifrin missed the front end of a one-and-one with 14.7 seconds left on the clock, giving New Canaan another chance.

After a time-out, New Canaan brought the ball up into the front court and took a shot that was no good. The ball was lose near the basket, and a second attempt by the Rams was also off target.The ball was knocked out of bounds by Wilton with 0.5 left. New Canaan inbounded the ball under the basket and put up a quick shot from the corner that was off the mark, giving Wilton the win.

When Wilton head coach Joel Geriak was asked why he thought his team (now 12-4 overall) had struggled against the 3-13 Rams, he replied, “Good question." "When I asked the team after the game I got a bunch of blank stares," continued Geriak. "For whatever reason we didn’t play the way we are capable of playing. Were they looking past New Canaan [and] thinking about Monday’s game against Norwalk? I don’t know. The team played hard, but we just didn’t have the mental focus tonight that we needed to have.”

The game got off to a fast start, with the Rams draining three three-pointers, two from Tyler Sweeney, the first three times down the floor for a 9-3 lead. The Warriors played under control and were able to penetrate the lane for points in the paint, as the high-scoring first quarter came to an end with Wilton ahead, 26-21. Richie Williams (nine points) and Shifrin (eight points) fueled the home team.

Both teams were racking up the fouls early in the game. New Canaan fouls in the first quarter had Wilton in the bonus situation by quarter's end, as Sweeney was forced to the bench with three fouls. Wilton was nine for 12 from the free-throw line in the first half and New Canaan was seven for 14.

In the second quarter the Warriors saw their lead grow to double digits, and when Michael Bingaman cut to the basket for a bucket, the Warriors had their biggest lead at 38-26. The Rams battled back to finish the quarter on a 12-5 run and cut the Warrior lead to 43-38 at the half.

Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter, with Wilton not hitting its first basket until 4:30 into the period — a shot that tied the score at 45-45. Shifrin put in a scoop shot and was fouled, and after he converted his free throw Wilton had a 51-45 lead. New Canaan then hit two baskets to end the third quarter with Wilton in front, 51-49.

The game remained close in the final quarter, leading to Shouvlin's game-winner.

Shifrin finished the night with 20 points for Wilton, while Bingaman had 13 points, all in the first half, and Richie Williams added 11 points.

"Their defense created problems for us; they played very compact and our passes around the perimeter were off,” said Williams. “And once we starting missing our shots on offense it starting affecting our play on defense. We had good energy to start but lost it."