Wilton boys hoop team tops Danbury in regular-season finale

It was likely to be the last time senior starters and co-captains Eric Houska and Peter Ciaccio, along with fan favorite Justin Shepard, would step out onto their home court for a high school basketball game.

And the Wilton High boys basketball team rallied around the trio, sending them off with a 64-55 win over Danbury in the regular-season finale Wednesday night at the Zeoli Field House.

With the victory, Wilton (12-8 overall, 10-8 FCIAC) secured the seventh seed for the conference playoffs, which begin Saturday at Fairfield Ludlowe. The Warriors will face second-seed Greenwich in a quarterfinal game at 2 p.m. Greenwich defeated Wilton, 63-38, in the regular season.

The triumph over Danbury also gave Wilton the FCIAC Eastern Division title for only the second time in program history. Wilton previously finished atop the division in 1988-89.

Danbury scored the first points of the game for a 2-0 lead, but Houska answered right back with a three-pointer to put the home team ahead to stay.

Wilton held a 15-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and then twice took nine-point leads in the second quarter, the last at 26-17.

The Hatters came back with a 9-1 run to cut the lead to one at 27-26, but Matt Shifrin's basket to end the second quarter put Wilton ahead, 29-26, at halftime.

With four minutes left to play in the third quarter, the Warriors were clinging to a one-point lead at 37-36. Wilton then kicked into high gear and used a 12-3 run to finish the period up by 10, 49-39.

Wilton kept up its scoring spree in the fourth quarter, building a 64-42 lead late in the final period and cruising to the victory. The hosts were able to drive to the basket all night long for close-range baskets.

With the outcome decided, Wilton head coach Joel, Geriak pulled his three seniors one by one to the cheers of the crowd.

“I was talking to Peter (Ciaccio) in the locker room before the game and I said to him this is the last time we will be lacing up our sneakers to play in this gym,” said Houska. “It’s both a sad and happy feeling when you think about it. The team wanted to finish the regular season with a better effort than we had against Ridgefield (65-37 loss Monday), and the juniors wanted the seniors to go out with a win.

"We know as a team we have to come out and give a total effort the entire game," added Houska. "We found our rhythm midway through the third quarter to pull away and we finished it in the fourth quarter."

Houska ended with 15 points, while Shifrin had 12 points and Richie Williams 11 points. As a team Wilton was six for 17 from the foul line, while Danbury was 15 for 22 on its free throws.

As for the regular season, Geriak was proud of what his team achieved.

“If you told me at the beginning of the year we were going to be 12-8 at the end of the [regular] season, I would have signed up for that then," he said. "We know we have a tough opponent to open the FCIACs with Greenwich. We've got nothing to lose; we’re going out there and give it our best and hopefully have some fun. If we can hold our own rebounding, hit our free throws and play aggressively for 32 minutes, anything could happen."