A development like this one cannot fly under the radar for long.
Five seasons after collecting his 300th victory, Shaun Russell won his 400th game as East Hampton’s girls basketball coach on Thursday night as the Bellringers defeated Westbrook on their home floor 55-24.
East Hampton marked the occasion without much hoopla, just a photo op of Russell and the varsity and junior varsity Bellringers players – all masked up – following the game. Fans are not allowed in gyms this winter because of COVID-19, only players, coaches, referees and staff.
“While it was a bit strange to celebrate for a minute in an empty gym,” Russell said Friday, “it was also more impactful to be there in that moment with just the team.”
On that note, Thursday’s win reminded Russell of the family threads running through his program.
“Winning 400 games is a milestone made possible by the hard work and dedication of the players over time,” Russell said Friday. “It is a reminder of the lasting relationships built in and around the basketball program over time with them. Both of my assistant coaches (Samantha Greco and Erin Jump) played for me here. This year we have a niece of two of my former players on the team, a younger sister of a former player, and my own daughter (Delaney).
“It means the most to share it with them all. This is as much their milestone as it is mine.”
East Hampton, the defending Shoreline Conference champion, has reached the three-quarters mark of the shortened regular season with an 8-0 mark and is the favorite to repeat. Old Lyme (7-1) and Morgan, Cromwell and Coginchaug (all 6-2) are the Bellringers’ closest pursuers in the standings.
Russell has coached the team for 24 seasons and has been the school’s athletic director for the last 16 years.
“In the two years I’ve been here, I’ve known Shaun to be always willing to help out anyone, anywhere, any time,” East Hampton principal Eric Verner said.
“But you watch him coach, especially this year, and you realize how happy he is to be with the kids on the court,” Verner said. “He cares so much about these kids. It’s not about the wins with him, it’s about the kids getting better and having a good experience. It’s all about the players who have played for him over the years.”
Senior guard Hannah Barrientos scored a game-high 17 points against Westbrook, with Mya Field contributing 11 points and Meryl Curtin nine.
East Hampton 55, Westbrook 24
Emma Parkhurst 0 0 0, Jami Sacco 4 0 10, Alex Zanzalari 0 0 0, Gianna Salisbury 1 0 2, Adriana Stranieri 3 1 9, Olivia Palumbo 0 0 0, Kayla Prisley 1 0 3. Totals: 9 1 24.
EAST HAMPTON (8-0)
Meryl Curtin 3 1 9, Mya Field 5 1 11, Hannah Barrientos 7 1 17, Danielle Adams 2 0 5, Amber Murphy 0 0 0, Delaney Russell 1 0 2, Jackie Russell 1 0 2, Jordan Murphy 1 0 2, Hailey Pyrek 1 0 3, Madison Yorker 1 2 4. Totals: 22 5 55.
Score By Quarters
W 1 6 12 5–24
EH 18 12 12 13–55
3-Pointers: W–Sacco 2, Stranieri 2, Prisley 1; EH–Curtin 2, Barrientos 2, Adams 1, Pyrek 1.