BOYS BASKETBALL: The long road back falls short for Sheehan

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WALLINGFORD — The Sheehan boys basketball team’s furious fourth-quarter comeback fell short in its home opener against West Haven on Friday.

The Titans trailed by 19 points to start the fourth and trimmed the deficit down to 4, but ultimately absorbed a 66-58 SCC crossover loss.

The Blue Devils were led by the trio of Nikolas Camara (15 points), Tyrese Hargrove (13) and Laron Holmes (12).

Sheehan was led by the dynamic duo of sophomore Jack McDonnell and junior Garrett Molampy. McDonnell had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Molampy put up 16 points.

McDonnell had 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

“The fourth quarter showed us how good our team can be when we turn it on,” McDonnell said. “When we turn it on for four quarters, we can be a big threat down the line.

“I’m really excited about the season,” McDonnell added. “Our motto is ‘Together.’ If we play together, it will be a special team and win a lot of games.”

Though down by 19 points, Sheehan quickly got rolling in the fourth quarter. The Titans were were successful on their first two possessions as Tyler Carmen canned a corner 3-pointer and then assisted on a Mark Amodio layup.

West Haven called a timeout to try to quell any momentum. Instead, McDonnell kept it going by hitting the first of his three fourth-quarter treys, this one from the top of the key, to pull the Titans to within 58-48 with 4:34 to play.

The rally rode on. Following a Caden Cloutier steal, McDonnell put in a corner jumper, Cameron Afanador split a pair at the line and Molampy canned a trey.

With 1:48 left, it was 58-54.

Holmes countered with a quick hoop for the Blue Devils. Afanador answered with a putback with 55.8 seconds left.

But 60-56 was as close as the Titans would get as Mufee Cooper, Hargrove and Quannel Straugher went 6-for-6 at the line in the closing seconds to seal it.

“We are all disappointed,” Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano said. “I want to take nothing away from West Haven, but we didn’t play our ‘A’ game, that’s for sure. We were not happy with our defensive effort tonight. We gave up too many points in the paint.”

The game couldn’t have started much better than it did for Sheehan. The Titans knocked down four of their first five shots and jumped out to a 9-3 advantage. Molampy hit a deep corner jumper and then a trey that forced a West Haven timeout.

Coach Tyrese Sullivan and his Blue Devils had a productive chat during the break. West Haven went to a 2-1-2 press, forced four turnovers in the next five Sheehan possessions and went on a 13-0 lead to go up 16-9.

“We started out with the zone and they got settled, and then we went for the sneak attack and turned the intensity up,” Sullivan said. “We can score in spurts, and when we put runs together we can be scary. We are still young and learning, but this was a big win for our program.”

Camara, a 6-foot-5 forward, registered three buckets during the 13-0 run, including a pair of put-backs. Jordan Berrios had a steal and two hoops as the visitors began to roll.

“We were ready for the trap, but I think it took us out of our rhythm,” Gaetano said. “We got a little rushed, and when we get rushed we don’t play like a team.” 

West Haven added a 13-3 run spanning 3:09 of the second quarter to take a 35-21 lead with 1:13 left in the first half.

Sheehan regrouped as Molampy made two shots in the last minute and McDonnell put in a trey to pull the Titans to within 37-27 before the halftime buzzer.

“We played good overall,” Molampy said. “We came out strong. Our defensive level was OK, but our team really picked it up on communication. It mostly came from us moving the ball around.

“We didn’t have that great of an offensive night. At the end of the game, we turned up our defense and started to cause turnovers. We know we can play better, but it’s the beginning of the season and we are ready for the next game.”

The SCC crossover foes traded baskets in the opening four minutes of the second half before the Blue Devils scored the last 10 points of the third quarter to build a 53-34 lead.

West Haven used a balanced attack throughout and had seven different scorers in the third quarter alone. The Blue Devils also took advantage at the foul line, going 10-of-13 to improve to 2-0.

Sheehan fell to 2-1 after opening the season with road wins over University and New Fairfield.

“It was only our third game and I’m very confident that we will go back to work and get it straightened out,” Gaetano said. “This team has a lot of potential. We are capable of playing better defense than we did tonight. If we do that, we will surprise a lot of people.”


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