Wilton boys hoop beats Ludlowe, checks off another goal

The Wilton High boys basketball team defeated Fairfield Ludlowe, 58-52, Monday night at the Zeoli Field House to collect its 10th win of the season and reach the third of four pre-season goals set by head coach Joel Geriak.

The Warriors can now turn their focus to goal number four: qualifying for the FCIAC playoffs. Coming into tonight’s action, the Warriors were seventh in the overall conference standings, with the top-eight teams advancing at the end of the regular season.

Geriak gave his team four preseason goals: Win the holiday tournament, qualify for states, win 10 games, and qualify for the FCIAC playoffs.

“Our team works hard and battles to the end,” said Geriak after Monday night's victory. "I really wanted the kids to get to the 10 wins first and then turn our focus on FCIACs."

Geriak then turned his attention to the play of Michael Bingaman. “He (Bingaman) has stepped up his game since the beginning of the season, and he seems to come up with big plays at key times," said Geriak. "Tonight he got back on defense to block a shot, brought down some key rebounds, and hit a big shot in third quarter to get us back on track."

Against Ludlowe, the Warriors overcame a poor shooting performance from the free-throw line, going only four for 12 in the game. The Falcons made their only free-throw attempt.

Wilton connected for seven three-pointers in the first half, although that was good enough for only a 30-30 tie at the half. Wilton had its biggest lead of the first half at 24-18 after a Scott Shouvlin three-pointer. But the Falcons battled back and closed the first half with a 10-3 run to knot the score.

The Warriors had several chances to open a double-digit lead on their opponent, but poor shot selection and quick shots in transition kept the game close.

Ludlowe started the third quarter with a 5-0 run on two baskets, as the home team’s shooting went cold. A Bingaman three-pointer ended the Wilton scoring drought 3:10 into the period.

Wilton Wilton ahead 45-43, Matt Shifrin hit a three-pointer to open the fourth quarter and extend the host's lead to 48-43.

Trailing 51-45 with 4:12 left to play, Ludlowe couldn’t inbound the ball at half court and was called for a five-second violation. Shouvlin then hit a three-pointer to give his team a nine-point lead at 54-45.

Ludlowe kept fighting and pulled within 57-52 and then got possession on a tie-up in the corner with 26 seconds left. The Falcons had several chances to score from close range, but Wilton's Peter Ciaccio was finally able rip down the rebound and secure the win.

The Warriors were led by Shifrin, who scored 21 points, and Eric Houska, who added 17 points. Shouvlin contributed nine points and Ciaccio had eight points.

It’s the second year in a row under sophomore coach Geriak that the Warriors have posted 10 wins or more. Prior to that, Geriak was the junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach.

“I think it helped us to play under him as the JV and assistant coach,” said Shifrin. “He (Geriak) is easy to play for; he lets us play our game and doesn’t get in your face. He trusts us as players and wants as to keep shooting the ball. Actually, he gets upset if you don’t take the shot.”