Simsbury cements victory over Amity at foul line

WOODBRIDGE — In the true spirit of the holiday season, when it is better to give than to receive, the Amity boys basketball team committed 20 personal fouls, which resulted in giving visiting Simsbury 32 foul shots.

Willing to accept the Amity holiday offerings, the Trojans converted 26 of its free throws in a 66-62 non-conference victory last week in Woodbridge.

Simsbury also hit eight 3-pointers in sending the Spartans to their fifth straight loss to open the season.

“Obviously all those foul shots and our 3s were the difference in the game,” Simsbury coach Greg Stillman said.

Amity also had a good game from the free-throw line, connecting on 19-of-25 attempts but hit only three 3-pointers. A lack of quantity rather than a lack quality in each of those two categories proved to the Spartans’ downfall.

“They moved the ball well and we fouled them instead of playing good defense,” Amity coach Jeff Nielsen said. “We were too sloppy and also too aggressive on defense. As a result, they got to into the bonus situation early in each half. We knew they shoot a lot of 3s but we did a poor job of defending the 3-point line, especially in the first half, when we gave up five 3s.”

While Amity guard Scott Moran scored a game-high 28 points, Simsbury (2-2) got 25 points from forward Geoff Simpson, who was good on all 16 of his foul shots. Trojan forward Alan Zienacz added 17 points, including four 3-pointers.

Amity’s only lead of the game came when Ned Wood scored with 2 minutes, 55 seconds left in the first quarter. It gave the Spartans a 13-12 lead, but Simsbury closed out the quarter with a 6-1 run (including a pair of 3-pointers by Zienacz) to grab a 20-14 lead.

When Marcel Perry completed a traditional three-point play, the Trojans extended their lead to 28-18 with 4:40 to go in the first half. That proved to be Simsbury’s biggest advantage of the contest.

Hitting 10-of-19 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the foul line, Simsbury took a 35-28 halftime lead. Amity shot only 9-of-26 (35 percent) from the floor in the first half.

Going to a full-court press, the Spartans did a better job of defending the 3-point line in the second half, allowing only three 3-pointers.

In addition, the increased defensive pressure forced Simsbury to turn the ball over 10 times in the second half (16 for the night) but Amity often missed easy layups or turned the ball back over to the Trojans. The Spartans recorded five of their nine turnovers in the second half.

“When we pressured them in the second half, we got some turnovers, but unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize on many of them,” Nielsen said. “We missed a lot of layups, especially in the first half.”

Amity played catch-up throughout the second half.

An 8-1 run during the third quarter, including four points from Moran, got the Spartans within a point at 41-40 but Simsbury responded with a 3-pointer and then a pair of foul shots from Perry made it 50-46 at the end of the third.

It was more of the same in the fourth quarter.

Thanks to seven points from Moran along with a put-back and a free throw from Kevin Russell, Amity shaved a seven-point deficit (56-49) back to only one point (60-59) with 1:06 left in the game.

After Simpson hit two free throws with 42 seconds left, Moran missed a baseline drive at the 16-second mark. Six seconds later Ryan Quinn hit the first of two foul shots to give Simsbury a 63-59 lead. He missed his second try but the rebound was hauled in by the Trojans.

Amity quickly fouled Perry, who hit the first of his two tries.

Leading 64-59 with 2.3 seconds left on the clock, Moran was fouled on a 3-point shot, giving him three foul shots. Moran converted all three to make it 64-62 but Simpson was fouled 1 second later and he completed his perfect 16-of-16 effort from the line with two more foul shots.

“Scott Moran was locked onto the basket tonight and got his share of foul shots,” Nielsen said. “He was 10-for-10 from the line. For the most part, we played good defense, especially in the second half (limiting Simsbury to only12 shots). We also had a good effort from the foul line (19-of-25) but not good enough when the other team hits 26-of-32.”

Russell added 11 points for Amity.

Simsbury finished with only 16 field goals (on 31 shots) and added 26 of its 32 free throws (81 percent) while Amity connected was 21-of-47 from the floor (45 percent).