Pictured: Ryan Stratton (left) led Old Saybrook with 18 points in Tuesday’s 60-46 home win over Hale-Ray.
By Danny Atkinson
OLD SAYBROOK — Much was at stake in Tuesday night’s Shoreline Conference contest between boys basketball rivals Old Saybrook and Hale-Ray. Hale-Ray could avenge its season-opening 71-60 home loss to the Rams, while the Rams could secure bragging rights and clinch a state championship playoff berth.
Old Saybrook answered the challenge.
The Rams were relentless on defense all night and took control of the game by outscoring Hale-Ray 15-9 in the third quarter to carve out a 10-point lead. A handful of clutch shots early in the fourth sealed a 60-46 victory, the third straight for Old Saybrook (8-4).
Old Saybrook limited the Noises (10-4) to 23 points in each half and twice held to single-digit quarters.
In the first quarter, Hale-Ray started cold from the outside as Old Saybrook did a strong job of challenging shots. The Noises trailed 16-6 after eight minutes but rallied in the second quarter behind seven points from junior Mamush Ciccarello to make it 27-23 at halftime. However, the Rams caught fire on both ends to start the third and the game would never be so close.
Senior guard Ryan Stratton was the Rams’ leading scorer with 18 points, and the starting frontcourt of Aaron Tolve, Auggie Albert and Wes Nobile scored a combined 32 points (Albert was tops with 15). The trio did a formidable job of defending around the rim and limiting second-chance opportunities. They also helped hold star guards Loudon Chupas (17 points) and Ciccarello (12) under their season averages. On offense, the bigs outmuscled Hale-Ray in the paint and set others up for good scoring opportunities.
“The bigs rebounded well, set the pace and gave the guards energy,” Rams head coach Chris Perras said.
“The bigs drew the defense in and opened the game up for me and allowed me to do what I wanted,” said Stratton, who leads the team in scoring.
Old Saybrook went on runs at the start of both quarters to solidify a comfortable lead and the win.
After a 3-pointer by Drew Conroy cut the deficit to three, the Rams quickly went on a 7-0 run to go up 36-26 and force a timeout at the 4:31 mark and would maintain a double-digit lead going forward. Stratton connected on a layup and putback during the run and Nobile hit a running layup, with the Noises missing multiple 3’s during the stretch.
Hale-Ray ended the quarter trailing 42-32, and continued to struggle from the perimeter and with ball-handling and stopping the Rams in the paint.
Albert and Stratton combined for nine points in the quarter.
In the fourth, Old Saybrook came out and finally pushed its lead past 10 to squash any hope of a Noises comeback. With the score 46-36 with 6:16 remaining, Albert made an acrobatic layup and Stratton a tough putback to push the lead to 14. Chupas came alive with nine fourth-quarter points, but the Rams remained aggressive and ended on an 8-3 run. Perras was pleased to hold Chupas and Ciccarello under their season averages.
“When we get to halftime, I asked the guys to put the pedal to the metal, and then going into the fourth I asked them for eight more hard minutes and they rewarded me,” Perras said.
Old Saybrook has a chance to continue its success in conference play with games in the next week against Coginchaug (2-9) and Portland (8-6), which it beat earlier this season. Hale-Ray can get back on track Friday against Westbrook (5-8), which it routed earlier in the season.
Stratton feels Old Saybrook has a lot of momentum heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
“It was definitely a big win. This is the first tournament berth in three years. We just have to keep on building on this run and we’ll be all right.”
Drew Conroy 2 0-2 5, Loudon Chupas 7 3-5 17, Mamush Ciccarello 5 0-0 12, Nate Matetich 2 2-4 6, Miles Gagne 2 0-0 6, Braden Lankrage 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 5-11 46.
OLD SAYBROOK (8-4)
Ajdin Cecunjanin 1 0-0 2, Wes Nobile 2 2-4 6, Jake Butler 1 0-0 2, Riley Lawson 3 0-0 6, Ryan Stratton 9 0-0 18, Auggie Albert 7 1-2 15, Aaron Tolve 5 0-0 11. Totals: 38 3-6 60.
Score By Quarters
Hale-Ray…………6 17 9 14–46
Old Saybrook…16 11 15 18–60
3-pointers: Hale-Ray–Ciccarello 2, Gagne 2, Conroy 1; Old Saybrook–Tolve 1.
Up next: Hale-Ray at Westbrook, Friday, 7; Old Saybrook at Coginchaug, Friday, 7.