Wilton tops Norwalk, earns fifth seed in FCIACs

With a berth in the conference playoffs already assured, the Wilton boys basketball team had a chance to clinch the fifth seed in its regular-season finale Wednesday night.

The Warriors checked that box.

Powered by a strong third quarter, the host Warriors came away with a 76-53 victory over Norwalk at the Zeoli Field House. Wilton (13-7, 10-6 FCIAC) will now face fourth-seed Fairfield Warde in the FCIAC quarterfinals on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Fairfield Ludlowe. Wilton lost to Warde, 84-78 in overtime, during a regular-season game in January.

“We will be more prepared this time around,” said Wilton head coach Joel Geriak, whose team was without several players in the earlier meeting. “The coaching staff will put together a different game plan than [in] the last meeting. We’ll watch some tapes and put our plan together. We clearly know we have to do a better job rebounding at both ends of the floor."

Ahead 29-23 at halftime Wednesday night, Wilton outscored Norwalk, 30-14, in the third period to stretch its lead to 59-37 and put the game away. The Bears got to within four points, 36-32, early in the third quarter before the Warriors kicked it into gear and went on a 23-5 run to close the period, with the final three points coming on a three-quarter-court heave from Jack Williams that beat the buzzer.

“I called out several players at halftime for missing too many layups and easy shots,” said Geriak. "We should have taken a bigger lead into the break, but we didn’t, so I needed to send a message that they had to play better in the second half. They responded to what I said and stopped Norwalk’s chance for a comeback.”

On Senior Night, Wilton got its first five points from its two seniors, Michael Brown and James Maloney. Brown hit a three-pointer and Maloney followed with a layup off a pass from Williams, who passed up his own open shot.

Junior Matt Kronenberg had the hot hand for Wilton during the rest of the first quarter as he tallied 10 points, including two put-back baskets, to give the hosts a 17-12 lead after one.

The Bears began the second quarter with a 7-0 run to take a 19-17 lead, but Wilton ended the first half with its own 7-0 run to go ahead by six points at halftime.

“We got away from what was working for us ... and the coach [Geriak] made sure that we would get back on track in the second half,” said junior guard Drew Connolly. “We picked up the tempo and pushed the ball up the court in the third quarter."

Connolly finished with a game-high 21 points for Wilton, topping the 20-point mark for the second straight contest. Nine of Connolly’s points came in the third quarter, although his highlight in the period was a perfectly placed bounce pass through two Norwalk defenders to Kronenberg for a lay-in.

Kronenberg added 17 points for the Warriors, while Williams had 11 points and Maloney contributed 10 points.