An improved performance in the second half would be too late for the Weston high boys basketball team in the South-West Conference quarterfinals last week.
After struggling in the first half the seventh-seeded Trojans picked up their game a notch over the last two quarters on Saturday, Feb. 23. Despite keeping pace with the second-seeded Wildcats they could not erase the deficit in a 58-40 loss at Masuk High to exit the playoffs.
Yet getting the seventh seed was an achievement in itself for the Trojans, who ended the regular season last Tuesday, Feb. 19, when they hosted Masuk. A narrow 57-55 win on Senior Night, coupled with Newtown’s loss to Stratford, clinched Weston’s position in the playoffs.
Prior to the game captain Charlie DiPasquale, the team’s lone senior, was recognized for his commitment to the team during a pre-game ceremony. He and his teammates then went to work.
The Panthers would not go down without a fight, especially early in the night. Point guard Dom Migliano would be a force from beyond the arc, hitting a pair of three-pointers in the first frame.
The Trojans also demonstrated they could hit the long shot as DiPasquale and Asher Lee-Tyson each sank threes in the frame. The former also went five for seven from the foul line as Weston trailed 18-13.
Weston continued to use the three-pointer in the second quarter, courtesy of DiPasquale and Matt Folger, who each sank shots. Defensively, it allowed just one player to score from the filed but the Panthers also sank six of seven free throws to stay out in front at 29-25.
The tide turned in Weston’s favor in the third quarter as it outscored the competition better than two-to-one to take a 44-37 lead.
However, it had not heard the last of its opponent. Between Bryan Acevedo and Migliardo combining for four three-pointers they cut into the lead.
A team effort on offense would be just enough for the Trojans down the stretch. With DiPasquale, Asher Lee-Tyson, Ethan Lee-Tyson and Erik Dammen-Brower all finding the net Weston held on for the win.
DiPasquale led all scorers with 26 points, including four three-pointers. Ethan Lee-Tyson scored 11 (two three-pointers) and Dammen-Brower (one three-pointer) sank seven.
Ethan Lee-Tyson finished with six and Matt Folger had three. Grant Limone and Pascal Arvoy each netted two.
Going into Saturday’s game the Trojans knew that curtailing Bethel’s Dan Garvin, a Bryant University recruit, would be key to having a chance at a win. At times they did indeed accomplish that.
However, Bethel had others who could step up offensively, as the Trojans soon discovered. They also had trouble sinking shots in the first quarter as the Wildcats went up 16-9.
For the rest of the half it only got harder for the Trojans. Bethel was hard to stop from the outside as Carson Duffy and Calvin Daniels combined for three three-pointers to lead their team.
Weston struggled at the other end. Asher Lee-Tyson’s three-pointer and Arvoy’s field goal were their only points of the quarter as they trailed 32-14 at halftime.
“Whoever came out in the first half wasn’t Weston,” said Trojan head coach Jamaal Gibbs. “If you’re not ready to compete you’re going to get clobbered.”
When play resumed Weston pulled an about-face. Not only did it hold the Wildcats to just six points in the third quarter, had its best offensive showing of the night.
What was an 18-point deficit was eventually whittled down to 10. Asher Lee-Tyson’s three-pointer with a minute left made it 48-38 and the Trojans were within striking distance going into the final quarter.
Twice the Trojans got to within eight early in the fourth before Duffy’s three-pointer brought the lead back to double digits. As time grew short the Trojans often tried the three-point shot but came up empty as Bethel pulled out of reach.
“It’s hard to come back against a team like Bethel,” said Gibbs.
DiPasquale led Weston with 11 points, including three three-pointers. Asher Lee-Tyson was next with 10 (two three-pointers) and Arvoy sank seven.
Dammen-Brower netted five while Matt Gurman scored two. Folger sank one free throw.
Weston will now compete in the state Class M tournament beginning next week.