Foran coach Kirkpatrick looks back at boys basketball season

The Foran boys’ basketball team had a bus ride home from its SCC Division II playoff win against Sheehan that coach Ian Kirkpatrick hopes will carry forward into next season.

“That game showed them what they are capable of and it was good for the kids to get to play in the postseason,” said Kirkpatrick of the 10th-seeded Lions’ 69-62 win against No. 7 Sheehan. “It wasn’t a normal year for anyone. With one returning starter I knew there would be growing pains against the upper echelon teams. But my guys always worked hard and improved throughout the season, so I was proud of them.”

Foran took a 29-13 lead into the half then withstood a 28-13 third quarter by Sheehan. Charlie Diamantis led the way with 19 points. Trey Deitelbaum and Matteo Tonelli had 10 points each. They each made all four of their free throws and Tonelli drained two 3-pointers. Joe Gaetano tacked on nine points, Brayden Young and Todd Harris eight each and Jack D’Avignon hit a 3-pointer.

Foran lost 55-32 to No. 2 seed East Haven in the quarterfinals to finish 1-11. A.J. Edmond scored 12 points. Deitelbaum, Young and Harris divided 15 points. Gaetano made a 3-pointer.

“Charlie Diamantis (6-2 junior forward) had a good start to season, so a lot of teams honed on him,” Kirkpatrick said. “He was our primary scorer and made improvements to his game. I’m looking forward to coaching him next year.

“Todd Harris (6-0 forward) is our only senior and we are going to miss his leadership. He does all the little things. He is always positive and push others to be better.

“Trey Deitelbaum (5-9 junior guard) was our one returning starter. When Matteo Tonelli got hurt, we asked Trey to move around and play multiple positions. He was able to do that because he has a good understanding of the offense.

“Brayden Young (6-2 junior forward) exceeded my expectations coming in as a starter. He had a good year defensively. Next year he will be a big help.”

An ankle injury to Tonelli (6-0 junior guard) against Notre Dame in the fourth game of the season set the team back.

“That was a big blow to us,” Kirkpatrick said. “That created a lot of moving parts, asking players to take on new roles. Trey and Charlie embraced it. They were receptive to the adjustments.

“Matteo is our ballhandler, he initiates our offense and is a real good shooter. When we lost him, it was tough trying to find our identity on offense. When he returned against Law, then the Sheehan game, our offense really picked up with him as a starter.”

Jack D’Avignon (5-8 sophomore guard) and Joe Gaetano (6-2 sophomore forward) saw their roles expand.

Kirkpatrick said: “When Matteo went down, Jack stepped into his role. It was a big jump for him going from playing jayvee to starting varsity in game five. He is a good ballhandler. Joe earned more playing time as the year went on. He can score and rebound for us. They are a big part of how we will do moving forward. A.J. Edmond (6-0 junior forward) was our leading scorer in our last game with East Haven.”

Kirkpatrick gave a pat on the back to his assistant coaches.

“Dave Conrad is my assistant and junior varsity coach and Jeff Raucci is with the freshman and was also attends every varsity game,” Kirkpatrick said. “Those guys help me so much when it comes to preparing for games. They have the best interests of our student-athletes in mind and are great coaches.”

What do you do when you have a Notre Dame, a Wilbur Cross and a Fairfield Prep scheduled in a week? What do you tell your team?

“I told my guys this is not a regular season. You should want to play the best to get better,” Kirkpatrick said. “We would set goals. Let’s win this quarter, or how many rebounds can we get tonight. If we can improve on those things over the course of a season, we know we are making progress.

“That is what was important. It was about the process. The outcomes will come in time. What we did was focus on the little things with a young team against good competition. I think that will bode well for us next year.”

Going forward, Kirkpatrick likes what he sees.

“With eight juniors on roster and nine sophomores, there will be competition next year for spots,” he said. “There is a lot to look at. We are trying to create a culture of competition. It is all about getting better from here.”

Notes: “I’m a big advocate how the SCC structured DI and DII this year,” Kirkpatrick said. “If they do that moving forward with the postseason that would be great. Once you reach the required number of wins, split into the two divisions for the postseason. This year, East Haven, Branford, Daniel Hand and Lyman Hall have an opportunity to win a title. If the league is combined, they may not have that chance.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354