Pictured: Old Lyme’s Ty Dean comes down with a rebound during the Wildcats’ home game against Valley. Old Lyme remained unbeaten through four games with a 61-53 victory.
By Marc Silvestrini
OLD LYME — Kirk Kaczor not only coached a good game on Monday night, but he also did a pretty good job of summing up the Wildcats’ hard-fought 61-53 win over Shoreline Conference rival Valley Regional.
“When you’ve got a close game going between two good teams, it often comes down to one or two big plays,” he said. “In games like this, the outcome often turns in favor of the team that can make that big, game-changing play at just the right time.”
In this particular case, Kaczor was referring to two outstanding individual plays made by senior guard Ray Doll in the closing moments of each half.
Doll’s first big play came with 11 seconds left in the first half and the Wildcats nursing a 32-29 lead. With Valley in possession and looking to either tie the game or cut the deficit to one, Doll stole the ball in his own end, drove three-quarters of the length of the court and hit a layup to give Old Lyme a 34-29 advantage at the break.
His second big play came with 1:01 remaining in the game and Old Lyme clinging to a 53-51 lead. With the Warriors in possession and trying to inbound the ball about 40 feet from Old Lyme’s basket, Doll stole the ball by aggressively stepping in front of the intended recipient of the inbounds pass, dribbled to midcourt and then lofted a perfect pass to streaking teammate Brady Sheffield.
Sheffield, who finished with a game-high 26 points, cruised in for an uncontested layup to expand the Wildcats’ lead to 55-51.
“Those were two absolutely huge plays,” Kaczor said.
“I give coach Kaczor a lot of credit for the steal at the end of the game,” Doll said. “He said he wanted us to be aggressive and play tough, hard defense. I knew I had a couple of fouls to give, so I did what he asked and went after it as aggressively as I could.”
The win keeps Old Lyme unbeaten on the year at 4-0 and improves its Shoreline record to 3-0.
Valley, which played a tough early-season schedule, slipped to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
Cade Ensinger led Valley with a very good all-around performance of 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals. Gavin Grabowski scored 13 points and Jake Grow had 7 for the Warriors.
Doll’s big play in the final 61 seconds all but put a ribbon on a close, spirited and well-played basketball game that featured the lead changing hands 13 times in the first half and Valley erasing an 11-point deficit in the last two minutes of the third quarter and first minute of the fourth.
“I thought we played well. We played the way we wanted to,” Warriors coach Kevin Woods said. “We just made a couple of mistakes at the wrong time.
“It wasn’t so much the number of mistakes we made — we really played a pretty clean game. It was the timing of those mistakes.”
Five points from Ty Dean and four from Sheffield triggered an 11-5 spurt over the first six minutes of the third quarter to expand Old Lyme’s five-point halftime lead to 11 at 45-34 with 2:09 left in the quarter.
From there, however, Grabowski took matters into his own hands as he brought the Warriors back to within a bucket at 45-43, scoring the final nine points of the quarter by hitting three straight 3-pointers over a span of 1:22.
A jumper from the foul line by Ensinger tied things at 45 with only 15 seconds gone in the fourth quarter. A spectacular follow up by Valley freshman Jeremy Arnum gave the Warriors their first lead since midway through the second quarter at 47-45 with slightly less than seven minutes to play.
Neither team could gain more than a three-point advantage over the next six minutes until Doll’s steal and feed to Sheffield stretched the Wildcats’ lead to four at 55-51 with 61 seconds left.
Old Lyme outscored the Warriors 6-2 over the final minute to set the final margin at eight.
Dean finished with 9 points and Jacob Ritchie and Doll chipped in with 7 apiece for the Wildcats. Center Aedan Using, who scored 5 points, played an outstanding all-around game, finishing with 7 assists, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks and a pair of steals.
“I think you saw two pretty good teams get after it tonight, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing them a couple of more times down the road,” Woods said, referring to possible matchups with the Wildcats in both the Shoreline Conference and CIAC Division V tournaments at season’s end.
Chris Sparaco 3 0 6, Dylan Sparaco 0 0 0, Cade Ensinger 7 0 18, Gavin Grabowski 5 0 13, Jake Grow 3 0 7, John Tibbetts 0 0 0, Brian Rankin 2 0 5, Jeremy Arnum 2 0 4. Totals: 13 0 53.
OLD LYME (61)
Ty Dean 4 0 9, Brady Sheffield 9 6 26, Ray Doll 3 1 7, Aedan Using 2 0 5, Jared Ritchie 2 1 5, Jake Ritchie 2 1 7, Frank Sablone 1 0 2. Totals: 23 10 61.
Score By Quarters
3-Pointers: VR—Ensinger 4, Grabowski 3, Grow 1, Rankin 1; OL—Sheffield 2, Dean, Using 1, Jake Ritchie 1.
Records: Valley Regional 1-3; Old Lyme 4-0.
- Old Lyme at Portland, Friday, 7pm
- Valley Regional hosts East Hampton, Thursday, 7pm