Foran rallies twice to stay in playoff hunt

Matteo Tonelli, Charlie Diamantis, and Brayden Young will lead the Lions, who need wins in their last two games to make states.

Matteo Tonelli, Charlie Diamantis, and Brayden Young will lead the Lions, who need wins in their last two games to make states.

Foran High Athletics / Contributed photo

The Foran Lions defeated Guilford 40-38 to keep its playoff hopes alive in a game that leaned heavily in favor of the host Grizzlies.

Guilford brought a 7-2 record into the SCC matchup this past Wednesday. Included in that win total was a 65-36 pounding of Foran on Jan. 31. Add in the fact Guilford led 32-12 at the half and coach Ian Kirkpatrick’s Lions were in a pickle.

Kirkpatrick’s message at halftime was simple: if we can’t score; we can’t slow them down. Foran got within 13 after three quarters and won the final period 15-0 to emerge with the 40-38 win.

“Brayden Young had 10 of his 12 points in the second half,” Kirkpatrick said of his 6-2 senior guard. “He had a 3-pointer in the third and another in the fourth. Brayden had a really, big steal in the fourth. Once we tied it, we got the ball to Charlie Diamantis. He scored the game-winning basket on a contested layup with six seconds left then we got the stop at the end.”

Diamantis finished with 14 points as Foran improved to 5-11.

We knew if we were going to comeback it would have to come from our defense,” Kirkpatrick said. “We put the ball through the hoop in the second half. That slowed them down and we were able to change things up. We put pressure on in the half court and that generated some offense.

“In the fourth because we scored, we could trap them,” he added. “In the first half we didn’t score the ball so we couldn’t slow them down. They had a lot of points in transition. In the second half, more scoring by us led to better defense.”

The topsy turvey season continued with a 51-39 loss to East Haven on Friday.

Then Foran defeated Lyman Hall 44-39 in overtime on Saturday. That was the fourth game of the week for the Lions, who need to win their last two games to make states.

“Lyman Hall came out hot and took a 9-0 lead,” Kirkpatrick said. “We scored the next eight. It stayed back and forth. Joe Gaetano made two big free throws in the fourth to help get us to overtime. In overtime we made our free throws (5 for 6) and outscored them 7-2.

“We needed someone to get the ball inside against their zone,” he added. “Liam Young has a great basketball awareness. With the game on the line, he had some great assists. And Charlie had a big second half (13 points) for us.”

Foran needs wins at Sheehan tonight and in a rematch with Lyman Hall on Thursday to stretch its season.

Kirkpatrick said: “Scoring early we need to do these next two games. Playing from behind every game is difficult. Charlie gets a lot of attention. He is averaging about 14 points and Joe Gaetano is right around that number. Brayden has been battling a foot injury all season. For our guys to show that grit and stay in games when you’re not scoring the ball is great. But we need someone to get us those extra 10-12 points. The guys don’t want our season to end.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354