ALL-RECORD-JOURNAL: Boys basketball tent expands as more teams make the show

ALL-RECORD-JOURNAL: Boys basketball tent expands as more teams make the show

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MERIDEN — This winter was an eventful one for the area boys basketball squads. Six of the seven teams in the Record-Journal coverage area made the postseason and, with so much talent and so much success, exceptions were made as far as the size of the All-RJ team.

Expanding from our traditional five players, each of the playoff-bound teams earned two nominations for a total of 12.

The Wilcox Tech senior duo of D.J. Ransom and John Soto were particularly impressive. Both have combined for more than 3,000 career points. Ransom is the all-time leading scorer in Meriden history with 2,154 and Soto went over the 1,000-point milestone.

The Sheehan duo of junior Garrett Molampy and sophomore Jack McDonnell both have 1,000 points in their sights for next year.

The Cheshire duo of Aidan Godfrey, a junior, and Ian Battipaglia, a senior, emerged this season after minimal previous varsity experience. The two fueled the winningest Cheshire boys hoops team in nearly a decade.

Both Platt and Maloney returned to the postseason after not qualifying last year. Seniors Tre Carter and Romello Leary were the leaders for Platt. Senior Divine Ransom and sophomore Vincent Martinez led the Spartans.

Over in Southington, the Blue Knights put together another solid winning season under coach John Cessario. Senior Colin Burdette and junior Jared Kelly were the leading scorers.

Here’s a deeper look at our talented dozen.

D.J. Ransom,Wilcox Tech sr. G

The reigning Record-Journal Boys Basketball Player of the Year capped his career averaging 29.5 points per game in his senior season. He is Meriden’s all-time leading scorer with 2,154.

The past three years, the Indians won 15, 22 and 17 games and Ransom was right in the middle of it. The biggest accomplishment for the Tribe was a trip to the Division IV state semifinals in the 2017-18 season.

Ransom broke a 50-year-old city record with 649 points that year. This season, he raised Meriden’s single-season bar to 678.

Ransom also became the first player from a Connecticut technical school to eclipse 2,000 career points. With 2,154, he ranks 13th on the Connecticut boys basketball all-time scoring list.

Ransom was also second on the team in rebounding (7.0) and assists (3.4) and led the team in steals (3.5).

“D.J. has had a great high school career,” Wilcox coach Randy Farkas said. “He had a lot of success and was able to reach a conference championship game and a state semifinal. Not a lot of players get that opportunity; they are hard to come by. The last four years, scoring points has come fairly easy of us. Without D.J. next year, we are going to find out how hard it is to score.”

John Soto,Wilcox Tech sr. F

John Soto was a four-year contributor for the Indians. He eclipsed 1,000 points in his senior campaign for a squad that enjoyed plenty of success of the past three years.

This season, as the Tribe went 17-6, Soto averaged 16.7 points per game and was a force on the blocks, piling up a team-high 216 rebounds (9.4 per game).

“Once we hit mid-season, he was falling behind,” Wilcox Tech coach Randy Farkas said of Soto reaching 1,000. “I said we need to advance for this to happen, but he went on a tear down the stretch to get it. He really stepped up his game.”

Aidan Godfrey, Cheshire jr. C

Cheshire’s 6-foot-7 big man averaged a double-double for the 14-9 Rams, racking up a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. He also blocked five shots per contest and was named to the All-SCC First Team.

“He’s improved a great deal since last year,” Cheshire coach Dan Lee said. “His points catch people’s eyes, but it’s all of the things that don’t show up in the boxscore that make the difference. Aidan does so much away from the ball.

“Aidan causes matchup problems,” Lee continued. “The players that surround him play together as a unit. He’s our leading scorer on most occasions, but everyone else has stepped up this year and, when you put all of that together, it’s been a good year.”

Ian Battipaglia, Cheshire sr. G

Like Godfrey, Ian Battipaglia entered his senior year with limited varsity experience. He was a co-captain for the Rams this season and guided them into the quarterfinals of the SCC Tournament and into the CIAC Division II Tournament.

“We asked a lot out of him,” Coach Lee said. “He would guard the best offensive player on the other team. He played the guard position, but really out-rebounded his position. Offensively, he was a double-figure guy a number of different times. He would play the game right and rarely left the floor.

“He’s a guy that really made a difference even when he wasn’t scoring.”

Battipaglia did score. He netted 10 points a game. He also snagged five rebounds a night.

Battipaglia and his twin brother Eli, who also played basketball, were starters on Cheshire’s 2018 Class LL state championship baseball team.

Jack McDonnell,Sheehan so. G

Sheehan’s sophomore scoring machine pumped out 15 points and eight rebounds per game in his second year as a starter.

“People tend to forget that Jack is only a sophomore,” Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano said. “Jack continues to improve on his game both offensively and defensively. He’s shooting better each game and is attacking the basket with authority.”

Garrett Molampy, Sheehan jr. G

Molampy logged another season as Sheehan’s leading scorer despite a bevy of nagging injuries. The junior put up 16 points and five rebounds a game to help the Titans go 13-10 and reach the second round of the CIAC Division IV Tournament.

“Garrett is a lethal offensive player,” Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano said. “He’s battled through varioius injuries. He had to wear a mask for the first part of the season because he broke his nose in the preseason. Overall, he has grown quite a bit as a player.”

Molampy was named to the All-SCC Second Team and made his second straight appearance on the All-Record-Journal Team.

Colin Burdette,Southington sr. PG

Southington’s veteran point guard nabbed All-CCC West honors after averaging 10.4 points a game and 4.4 assists. Both were team highs.

And, despite being a guard, Burdette was third on the team in rebounding with 4.3 a game. He had four games with double-digit rebounds.

“It goes well beyond the numbers,” Southington coach John Cessario said of his point guard. “He’s a gamer. He always willing to make the play and he’s always thinking of his teammates. Colin has had a great season.”

Burdette seldom left the floor during a 13-10 season that culminated with the Blue Knights beating Kolbe Cathedral in the first round of the CIAC Division II Tournament before falling to second-seeded Glastonbury. Burdette played an average of 28½ minutes a game.

Jared Kelly,Southington jr. G

A consistent point-producer throughout the season, Jared Kelly’s scoring really exploded as the calendar hit February. He was a key cog in Southington’s eight-game winning streak and run to the CCC West-Colonial Division crown.

Kelly poured in a team-high 12 points per contest. The junior also had a team-high 49 3-pointers.

Kelly was Southington’s most accurate shooter: 74.3 percent from the free throw line, 53.7 from the floor and 43.4 from 3-point range.

“Jared Kelly’s basketball ability shined for us this year and that ability caught up to the level of the incredible person he is as a high school student, son and friend,” Coach Cessario said.

Roemello Leary,Platt sr. F

Roemello Leary simply blossomed this season. He averaged 14 points per contest to help lead the Panthers to a 10-10 regular season that got them back into the postseason a year after they won just two games.

Leary was named All-CCC South.

“Leary has been consistent all season,” Platt coach Shawon Moncrief said. “We can always count on him to bring 100 percent every game.”

Tremayne Carter,Platt sr. G

Tremayne Carter returned as the Panthers leading scorer from his junior campaign and did not relent as a senior.

He poured in 14 points per game and also averaged four assists and four rebounds while snagging two steals a contest.

Carter ended the season with Roemello Leary on both the All-CCC South and All-Record-Journl teams.

“The emergence of Leary has helped him this year,” Coach Moncrief said. “He doesn’t have to do as much as he did last year. He likes that role. He can average more points if he was on a different team. Last year, he scored more points, but we didn’t win as many games.”

Carter ended his regular season on a scoring tear with games of 25, 25 and 21 points.

Vincent Martinez, Maloney so. PG

Martinez transferred to Maloney from Platt prior to his sophomore year and emerged as the Spartans’ leading scorer and focal point of their offense.

“Vincent carried much of the offensive load, especially early in the season,” Maloney coach Howie Hewitt said. “He filled up the stat chart with points assists and rebounds. He rebounded well from the guard position. He made big plays in many of our victories that weren’t always baskets.”

Divine Ransom,Maloney sr. G

Divine Ransom is related to D.J. Ransom. He is the Wilcox star’s uncle.

At Maloney, he was a steady force for the Spartans and was the team’s second-leading scorer.

“Divine made the game-winning basket at Plainville and had seven fourth-quarter points against Bristol Central that gave our team the confidence it needed,” Coach Hewitt remarked. “He continued with a big game against Lyman Hall and had eight fourth-quarter points in a victory over Middletown. We will miss his late game contributions.”


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