MERIDEN — Wilcox Tech boys basketball put up a big fourth quarter led by seniors D.J. Ransom and John Soto in a 76-60 CTC victory over Bullard-Havens at the Joseph Schiopucie Gymnasium on Friday night.
The Indians used a big fourth-quarter run to win their fifth game in a row and eight of their last nine.
“We brought up the intensity,” Ransom said of his teams play in the second half. “Our intensity was slacking, but once we started talking on defense we started getting easy and open layups. That’s how we won by 16.”
Ransom pushed closer to becoming the all-time leading scorer in Meriden history with a game-high 30 points. Ransom now has 478 points on the season and 1,954 for his career.
He’s well within striking distance of 2014 Wilcox grad Roosevelt Shider, who is Meriden’s all-time scoring king at 1,984 points. Perhaps as soon as next Thursday night at home against O’Brien Tech the record will fall.
Friday’s contest was tight throughout until the Indians broke this one open with a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter and following it with a 7-1 finishing flourish.
Soto came through with a big game for the Tribe with 23 points. Sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas also provided a big spark after the Indians started out the night ice cold from the floor.
“We have been passing the ball a lot better (during the winning streak),” Soto said. “We pass down low and kick out for open shots. We are playing our best basketball to this point, but there is much we can still improve upon.”
The CTC foes were tied 30-30 at the half after the Tigers led from the opening tip. The visitors’ biggest lead was 20-12 with 5:48 left in the first half.
That’s when the high-powered Indians’ offense began to take control. Thomas was in the middle of it with three assists and two steals in a lightning quick 12-0 run that spanned 2:15.
The speedy Thomas had six assists, three steals and two rebounds at the half.
“He’s very explosive and very quick and had some nice drives finding John on the baseline. He really stepped up for us tonight,” Wilcox Tech coach Randy Farkas said. “Bryce McClendon had another big game on defense, forcing several turnovers at the top of the press.”
The Tribe took its first lead of the game when Thomas set up a Ransom 3-pointer with 4:08 left in the first half. Soto netted a game-high 12 points at the break, many on the back end of Wilcox Tech’s press breaker. Ransom had 11 after 16 minutes.
The big Wilcox Tech run was needed after struggling offensively throughout the first 12 minutes of play.
Jeremiah Wynter (20 points), Jayvon Hawthorne (13) and Barry Jean-Pierre (11) powered the Tigers throughout the contest.
Ransom bolted down court for a layup at the third-quarter buzzer to give the Indians a 49-48 lead after three. The game was up and down the court in the final minute as the teams exchanged buckets in rapid fashion. The Tigers (9-8) led by as many as five in the third but Ransom scored eight points in the third quarter to give the home squad the slight lead.
The Indians quickly built it up to a 56-48 lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter as Kelvin Santos drilled a 3-pointer set up by Thomas.
Then McClendon had a steal at the top of the Wilcox Tech press and set up Thomas for a layup.
The next time down the floor, Ransom grabbed a rebound and found Soto in transition for an easy layup as the Indians took a 56-48 advantage, their biggest lead to that point.
Ransom netted 11 of the last 15 points to seal the win for the Indians, now 12-4.
“We have come together and we talk more on the court,” Ransom said. “We want to win conference and states, and we know we have to play together to win.”
Farkas said the victory puts the team in good position regarding seeding in the upcoming CTC Tournament.
“This was a huge win for us,” Farkas said. “We had two conference games left heading into tonight and Bullard was our tougher challenge. If we get O’Brien, we will win our side of the conference and would get home games for the quarter and semifinals. The finals would be at a neutral site.”