Tournament Run Time? H-K Readies For No. 2 Cromwell

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Pictured: H-K sophomore Tate Callender hoists a 3-pointer during the Cougars’ first-round Shoreline Conference tournament game against Coginchaug on Saturday. Teammate Mason Gorham (32) and Coginchaug point guard Jayson Penney (11) are also pictured.

By Marc Silvestrini
middlesexcountysports@gmail.com

HIGGANUM – Sixteen days prior to Saturday’s Shoreline Conference tournament opener, Coginchaug and Haddam-Killingworth battled each other through 32 minutes of tense, exciting basketball before the Cougars emerged with a hard-fought 61-57 win.

On Saturday, in the same gym, H-K broke the game wide open in the earlygoing before cruising to an unexpectedly one-sided 78-28 win.

Tuesday’s Shoreline QuarterFinals Schedule
  • No. 5 Portland at No. 4 East Hampton, 6
  • No. 6 Old Lyme at No. 3 Valley Regional, 5
  • No. 7 H-K at No. 2 Cromwell, 6
  • No. 9 Hale Ray at No. 1 Morgan, 5

Led by senior center Jimmy McGoey, the Cougars scored the first 14 points of the game and limited the Blue Devils to just four first-quarter points in racing off to a 26-4 advantage after one quarter of play. McGoey, who missed the previous encounter as part of a three-game absence due to COVID-19 contact tracing, scored 11 of those first 14 points.

“I was just kind of feeling it today,” he said, adding that he and a group of his teammates had arrived at the gym early on Saturday to get in some extra shooting practice. “I felt pretty good while we were shooting around before the game and that just carried over once the game started.”

No. 5 Portland (69-47 over No. 12 North Branford), No. 6 Old Lyme (57-50 over No. 11 Westbrook) and No. 9 Hale-Ray (52-37 over No. 8 Old Saybrook) on Saturday also advanced to the quarterfinals.

McGoey said Saturday’s game meant a great deal to him, given the Cougars’ struggles in previous Shoreline tournaments.

“I really wanted to win this game because I’ve never won a Shoreline Conference (tournament) game in my entire four years here,” the senior said.

The Cougars (7-6) added two points to their 22-point, first-quarter lead by edging the Devils 11-9 in the second quarter before ending any shred of suspense by outscoring the visitors 27-7 in the third quarter to take a commanding 64-20 lead into the fourth.

By that time, both teams had pretty much emptied their benches.

Senior guard Alec Erskine led the Cougar onslaught with a game-high 21 points, while McGoey chipped in with 13, sophomore Mason Gorham added 10 and fellow sophomore Joey Giaccone came off the bench to score eight.

Dylan Kaczor led the Blue Devils, who finished the season with a 2-10 record, with an eight-point effort while A.J. DeFilio scored seven.

“They were just a buzzsaw tonight,” Coginchaug coach Todd Salva said. “They just hit everything they threw up there, while we missed just about everything we threw up.”

Salva, who has been coaching high school basketball for more than 30 years and has won more than 400 games, added that H-K is currently playing its best basketball of the season, which makes the Cougars a serious contender for the tournament title.

“They’ve really got all the pieces and they’re playing with an extreme amount of confidence,” he said. “(H-K coach) Jim (Abbott) has them peaking at the right time. The way they’re playing, H-K has a legitimate shot at winning this thing.”

When informed of Salva’s assessment, McGoey said any future success would be dependent on the Cougars’ level of play.

“If we play up to our potential — if everyone does their part — I think we have the ability to play with just about anyone,” he said.

While Abbott said he was too concerned about No. 2 seed Cromwell, H-K’s opponent in the quarterfinal round, to even think about a championship, he did admit that his team “seems to be peaking” at just the right time.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” he said. “It feels like we could be in a position to make a little run in this tournament.

“We’re a different team now than we were when we played them two weeks ago (a 62-39, season-opening win for Cromwell last month). With McGoey and Tate Callender (who also missed the Coginchaug game) back, our defense is much stronger.”

Abbott added that he thought his team’s intense man-to-man defense, complete with a half-court zone trap, was a key factor early in the game.

“That was as good as we’ve run the trap all year,” the coach said. “We came out flying around on defense and I think that helped set the stage for our success.”

COGINCHAUG (2-10)
Jayson Penney 1 2 5, A.J. DeFilio 2 2 7, Jake Dykas 0 0 0, Tyler Garretson 2 2 6, Terence Murphy 1 0 2,
Dylan Kaczor 3 0 8, Adam Schafer 0 0 0, Sam Whittle 0 0 0, Ryan Grant 0 0 0. Totals: 9 6 28.

HADDAM-KILLINGWORTH (7-6)
Chase O’Linn 2 1 5, Alec Erskine 7 3 21, Mason Gorham 5 0 10, Tony Giambanis 1 0 3, James McGoey 5 2
13, Tate Callender 3 0 7, Callen Powers 1 0 3, Joey Giaccone 3 0 8, Adam Alonzo 1 0 2, Jayden Zaiton 2 0
4, Blake Kamoen 0 0 0, Declan Christopher 0 0 0, Jason Maziarz 1 0 2, Ben DeCrosta 0 0 0, Tyler Perry 0 0. Totals: 31 6 78.

Score By Quarters
Cog 4 9 7 8–28
HK 26 11 27 14–78

3-Pointers: C–Kaczor 2, Penney 1, DeFilio 1; H-K–Erskine 4, Giaccone 2, Giambanis 1, McGoey 1,
Callender 1, Powers 1.

Elsewhere in Saturday’s first round of the Shoreline tournament:

No. 9 Hale-Ray 52, No. 8 Old Saybrook 37

HALE-RAY (7-6)
Matt Conroy 0 0-0 0, Loudon Chupas 6 3-5 16, Mamush Ciccarello 6 1-3 18, Ross Kuluga 2 0-0 4, Miles Gagne 0 4-4 4, Nate Matetich 2 0-1 4, Braden Lankrage 2 1-4 6. Totals: 18 9-17 52.

OLD SAYBROOK (6-8)
Ben Yost 4 4-4 12, Riley Lawson 2 3-5 7, Ryan Straton 1 0-0 2, Owen Tolve 2 0-0 5, Aaron Tolve 4 0-1 11. Totals: 13 7-10 37.

Score By Quarters
HR 10 10 15 17–52
OS 2 16 14 5–37

3-Pointers: HR–Ciccarello 5, Lankrage 1, Chupas 1; OS–A. Tolve 3, O. Tolve 1.

Old Lyme 57, Westbrook 50

WESTBROOK (2-11)
Bran Naccarato 2 0 5, Joey Caslin 4 1 11, Brenden Engels 2 0 6, Jack Naccarato 8 2 20, Ryan Engels 2 0 4, Sammy Freeman 1 2 4. Totals: 19 5 50.

OLD LYME (7-6)
Nick Cox 1 0 2, Jacob Ritchie 4 4 14, Frank Sablone 3 3 9, Colbe Andrews 3 8 14, Caden Monte 5 1 11, Calvin Monte 1 0 2, Maverick Swaney 1 3 5. Totals: 18 19 57.

Score By Quarters
W 17 11 5 17–50
OL 15 12 9 21–57

3-Pointers: W–J. Naccarato 2, Caslin 2, B. Engels 2, B. Naccarato 1; OL–Ritchie 2.

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