Jonathan Law basketball players began filing out of the James Richetelli Sr. Gymnasium rapidly on Feb. 5.
Other than a small celebration, which took place courtside when the game was over, most members of the Law squad, which had just ended a rather-historic 36-game losing streak with a 52-45 non-Southern Connecticut Conference victory over the Amistad Academy of New Haven, were heading their own separate ways.
“I think some of them have pizza parties planned,” said second-year Law coach Tim Dooley, whose team had dropped 15 consecutive games during this season on top of 20 during the 2011-12 year.
The streak which seemed to haunt every one, stretched all the way back to the end of the 2010-11 campaign.
Dooley wore that look of relief on his face.
“When I took this job at the beginning of last year, I never imagined it would take this long to win our first game,” he said. “It’s a relief. I’m especially happy for our seniors. They’ve worked very hard and were determined to bring the losing streak to an end.”
A poised and controlled team used a spread offense in the final eight minutes to defeat the Wolves, who play an independent schedule.
Junior forward Kevin Wall scored eight of his game-high 17 points in those minutes.
“What we were able to do despite the turnovers was to make big plays when we had to and not lose the ball when it was most crucial not to do it,” said Dooley, whose team has four games remaining in the season.
The Lawmen will host Sheehan of Wallingford and West Haven before they hit the road for a game with Xavier High in Middletown. Law closes out its season next Monday night at home with East Haven.
“I do feel we’ve gained some momentum and confidence from this win,” Dooley said. “But we do have a lot to improve on still.”
With seniors Markese Wright and Winfred Rembert pulling down rebounds and the Wolves running a fast-break offense, Amistad took the early lead and led 14-11 after one quarter.
But, when both got in foul trouble, Wolves’ coach Ryan Ott had to make some adjustments.
“Once we had to go with a smaller and far more inexperienced team, we were in trouble,” he said. “It changed everything we wanted to do.”
Amistad (2-11) didn’t relinquish the lead until Dylan Vienneau’s first of two 3-pointers gave Law a 22-20 lead, one it would never give up at 2:59 of the second quarter.
Vienneau hit another three with 2:17 to go, as the Lawmen pushed their lead to 25-20.
A 6-2 run by Amistad made it a one-point game, 27-26, by halftime.
The biggest lead Law would take in the third quarter was six, 38-32, when Jack Campbell connected on one of two free throws with 1:48 to play.
Amistad closed it to 40-39 on a 3-pointer by Naquan Murphy early in the fourth quarter.
After that, Law dominated, building its biggest lead, nine points, at 50-41, on a basket by Zack Toto.
“I was impressed by their team,” Ott said. “Even though they hadn’t won a game before tonight, they played us tough and hard.”
In addition to Wall, who also had six rebounds along with John Ciesla and Jeremy Doucette, Toto reached double figures with 10.
Hawkins French added nine points and Ciesla and Vienneau had six each.
Freshman Jason Kirkland paced the Wolves with 12 points and Quentin Little chipped in with 11.
Law made 19 of 40 field-goal attempts (47 percent), including 5-of-8 in the final quarter.
The Lawmen also held a 34-29 margin in rebounds.
The middle two periods of play proved to be the difference when Jonathan Law lost to North Haven, 62-51, in Milford on Wednesday.
Law took a 12-10 lead after one quarter, but North Haven (3-8) won the next two stanzas (20-12, 18-10) to take a 48-34 lead into the final frame.
Ciesla made four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points for the Lawmen.
Toto scored 17 points, including a 7-for-10 effort from the foul line.