West Haven boys' basketball drops pair to Cheshire
With an inexperienced team on the floor, West Haven boys’ basketball coach Harry Bosley knew his team might have some growing pains.
Through a handful of games, Bosley’s thoughts have proven correct.
West Haven opened the season with one win in its first three games before playing a pair against Cheshire.
Bosley lamented an opening-night loss against Amity, where the Westies had chances to win, saw an overpowering Career team win by 37 and finally got the team’s first win in a battle at Shelton.
The Westies were looking to make it two straight wins last Tuesday night against Cheshire at West Haven. In a game that was postponed due to Monday’s snowfall, the Westie offense looked sluggish at times as the Rams posted a 47-42 victory.
“I never really had a team with no returning players the following year,” Bosley said. “We play well as a team until it is time to finish and it gets to that next level. When it comes down to it, we don’t have that guy to relieve the pressure, to say give me the ball I am going to finish this.”
West Haven (1-3) struggled offensively as Tieron Jackson and Deshawn Moncrease did the bulk of the scoring, combining for more than half of the team’s points with 29.
The Rams did a good job neutralizing the rest of the offense and the hard work by Cheshire’s defense paid off, especially in the second and fourth quarters.
In each quarter, the Cheshire defense held the Westies to single-digit scoring.
In the second quarter, that effort prevented West Haven from pulling away after building a three-point lead after one quarter.
The defensive effort by the Rams paid the biggest dividends in the fourth quarter to overcome a seven-point deficit.
The Rams held West Haven to just nine points after the teams entered the final 8 minutes tied at 33, then hit their free throws down the stretch to post the victory.
“It is a group effort,” Bosley said. “There are certain parts of the game where nobody comes though. We go through lapses at the wrong times. We were up 40-33 with 4 minutes, 50 seconds to go. All we had to do was close it out. You have to give Cheshire credit. They hit some big shots.”
While Nate Howard led the Rams with 18 points, the Westies could not contain Matt Bailey from the outside. Bailey kept his team in the game and gave the Rams momentum by draining four 3-pointers.
“They made their shots when they needed to make them,” Bosley said. “They came up with some big shots.”
The Westies led 19-18 through two quarters of play before a Cheshire run in the third quarter evened the game at 33. The Rams finished the game 13-of-16 from the free-throw line.
Bosley has stressed to his team getting to the free-throw line but the smaller Westies could not establish an inside presence against the Rams.
As a result, West Haven attempted only four free throws, connecting on all four.
“We are not big enough,” Bosley said. “We don’t have an inside game. We do not have anybody who can play with their back to the basket.”
Jackson connected on three 3-pointers for West Haven. Alex Ford scored six points and Ervin Philips added four.
The Westies had another crack at Cheshire two nights later in Cheshire.
Unfortunately for the Westies, the game ended with the same result as the Rams tied the game in the final seconds of regulation and used a late shot in overtime to defeat the Westies 70-69.
“We had opportunities to close it out,” Bosley said. “We had a five-second call, then another turnover. They hit their shots at the end.”
West Haven appeared to have the game under control with 39 seconds remaining as Philips’ two free throws gave the Westies an eight point lead.
Cheshire’s comeback then began when Bailey hit a 3-pointer with 33.5 seconds to go in regulation, West Haven turned the ball over and fouled the Rams.
Bailey hit two free throws to cut the deficit to three with 24 seconds remaining. A West Haven turnover gave the ball back to the Rams and Bill Weyrauch.
With West Haven leading 62-59 and looking to pick up its second win, Weyrauch knotted the game when he drained a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in regulation.
The Westies had another chance to win in overtime but that opportunity slipped away when Howard’s basket with 17 seconds to go proved to be the winner for Cheshire.
“They had three shots at the basket with 12 seconds to go (regulation),” Bosley said. “All we needed was to get the rebound. They outhustled us to the ball.”
The loss wasted a solid start for West Haven, which limited the Rams to just four points in the first quarter and held an 11-point lead after starting the game on a 15-2 run.
Cheshire opened up the offense in the second quarter and inched closer and the Westies led only 33-27 at the half. West Haven was 15-for-21 from the field in the first half of play.
“The guys have to understand the big difference between this level and junior varsity is when you get a team down, you have to keep them down,” Bosley said. “Momentum and tempo is a big part of the game. You could feel it coming in the game.”
Cheshire did a nice job chipping away at the Westie lead. The Rams cut the deficit to four points heading into the final quarter where they took the lead by one for a short amount of time, then eventually tied the game on Weyrauch’s shot.
West Haven had used six straight free throws to take a 62-54 lead before Cheshire started its comeback.
Moncrease led the Westies with 21 points. Kadialy Toure scored 14 and Philips added 10. Jackson and Ford added nine and eight points, respectively. West Haven was superb from the free-throw line, connecting on 17-of-20 shots.
Weyrauch led Cheshire with 22 points, including four 3-pointers. Bailey scored 15 and Howard added 10.