By Ajlal N. Khan
Special to The Citizen
After an excruciating five-game road stretch, the Berlin boys basketball team hosted its first home game of the season against the Maloney Spartans. And the Redcoats took care of business, winning 58-49 in front of their home crowd and a rejuvenated Red Sea student section.
The win did not come easy, however.
The Spartan defense kept it close, pressuring the Redcoats into turnovers and outrunning them on the fast-break.
“We were very careless with the ball and we had a lot of unforced turnovers … We didn’t value every possession,” said Berlin coach Mike Veneziano.
Despite the stout Spartan defense, Berlin was able to score early and led 15-6 at the end of the first quarter.
But the second period saw the Spartans come back strong, slowing Berlin down on offense and picking up points in a hurry.
With one minute to go in the half, the Spartans took the lead.
“Today, it was bad … our kids tend to relax when they get a lead, and as you saw tonight, a nine-point lead went to zero real quick,” Veneziano said.
“It will be a problem going forward if it doesn’t get fixed.”
In the third quarter, the Maloney squad kept up its barrage on defense. Fortunately for the Redcoats, senior captains Holden Murphy and Gianni Fanelli heated up, keeping their team in the fight.
“When I catch fire and Holden catches fire at the same time, it’s gonna be hard to beat,” said Fanelli. “It’s that one-two punch that we are fortunate to have.”
Murphy’s and Fanelli’s sharp-shooting carried the Redcoats through the fourth quarter, as the home team began to pull away. Assisting the duo was fellow senior captain Ryan Hyde, a point guard and vocal leader.
“At the end of the day, I love having teammates like Holden and Gianni, and having guys around me that can score,” said Hyde. “I love making the extra pass that will help us play well as a team.”
Berlin fell in its next game, to East Catholic, and is slated to face Bristol Eastern on Tuesday.
Heading into this week, the Redcoats own a record of 4-3.