Wilton boys hoop team upset in state opener

Coming off a loss in the conference semifinals, the Wilton boys basketball team was hoping to make a deep run in the state tournament.

That didn't happen.

Lyman Hall, the 22nd seed, traveled to Wilton on Monday night and upset the 11th-seeded Warriors, 59-55, in a Class L first-round game at the Zeoli Field House.

"We didn’t play a full 32 minutes; we played well in the fourth quarter and that was about it," said Wilton head coach Joel Geriak, whose team finished the season with a better-than-forecast 14-9 record. "We forced up some bad shots, and we could have played better as a team. Lyman [Hall] did an outstanding job protecting the rim, and it made us take bad shots.”

To its credit, Wilton did battle back from a 12-point deficit after three quarters, taking a brief lead i the final period. But Lyman Hall was able to make its foul shots and stand tall of defense to come away with the win.

Brendan O’Connell's basket gave Lyman Hall a 42-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Warriors then caught fire, going on a 17-3 run to tie the score at 45-45 with 5:05 to play. Wilton drained four three-pointers (two by Drew Connolly and one each for Jack Williams and Nick Kronenberg) to fuel the comeback.

A Matt Kronenberg basket gave Wilton a 47-45 lead, but the Trojans came right back to tie it at 47-47. Lyman Hall had a 53-49 lead when Matt Kronenberg hit back-to-back baskets to tie the score at 53-53 with 1:38 left. The Trojans then got a basket from Will Shields and sank four of six free throws to finally put away Wilton.

The first quarter saw five lead changes, with Lyman Hall ahead, 11-9, at the end of the period. Matt Kronenberg's steal and basket tied the game at 11-11 to start the second quarter, but the Trojans opened a 22-18 advantage late in the period before back-to-back three-pointers from Sean Breslin and Williams put the Warriors in front, 24-22, at halftime. Williams’s trey came as time expired in the second quarter.

As Wilton waited on the court, Lyman Hall emerged from the locker room with less than a minute remaining in the halftime break. Once the third quarter began, however, it was the Warriors who didn't appear to be on the floor. The Trojans outscored Wilton, 18-4, in the third quarter to take a 40-28 lead into the final period.

Williams led the Warriors with 17 points. Connolly added 16 points and Matt Kronenberg had 10 points. O’Connell paced Lyman Hall with 16 points, followed by Matt Hultgren with 14 points and Kyle Shea with 13 points.

“This team is still young and I hope we can learn from these last two losses," said Geriak. "The kids worked their butts off all year and it’s disappointing to bow out in the first round. I feel bad for the way the season ended for our seniors.”

Notes: Wilton was without 6'4" senior James Maloney, who missed the game due to a violation of team rules, according to Geriak. “Yeah, we did miss Maloney under the boards tonight ..." said Geriak. "He probably would have had 10 rebounds and 10 points in the game.”

Lyman Hall will now play sixth-seed Pomperaug in a Class L second-round game Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Southbury. Pomperaug blasted 27th-seed North Haven, 90-53, in another first-round contest Monday.