The Foran High boys basketball team defeated SCC rival, 50-40, in its season opener on Saturday.

“It’s very important for us to build off of this to get where we want to be,” said coach Ian Kirkpatrick, whose Lions posted four wins a year ago. “We have a lot of work to do, but if we keep putting forth the effort like we saw in tonight’s game, I think the outcome will be in our favor.”

Senior captains Matt Cruz and Todd Gentley led the Lions with 17 points each.

Ed Popolizio led East Haven with 22 points.

“That’s why they have that role,” Kirkpatrick said. “They provide us with a lot of leadership. The younger guys see that and feed off of it and that’s what this program is all about.”

The Yellowjackets got off to an early lead thanks to some sharp shooting from Popolizio.

The momentum swung in favor of the Lions when Gentley was fouled on a post up move and completed the three-point play and Foran had a lead it would never relinquish.

Leading 9-7 after one quarter, the Lions went on a 12-1 run in the second.

Gentley started the streak from the post, before John Shannon scored on a layup.

Ryan Spano went to the line for the Yellowjackets, making 1-of-2 before the Lions scored eight more points.

First, Cruz nailed a three then got the steal and found Mark Wootton, who went to the line and made 1-of-2. Shannon steal led to a Gentley basket.

Tyler Heenan followed with another steal and breakaway bucket for a 24-11 lead.

The Yellowjackets responded with a 6-2 run on baskets from Gabe Longley, Spano and Popolizio. Foran led 26-17 at the half.

After trading the first few baskets in the third quarter, the Lions went on their second run of the game, as Cruz scored six straight points and Gentley added a layup for a 14-point lead.

East Haven answered with 12-2 run which cut the Foran lead down to four points, early in the fourth quarter.

The Lions roared back with a 10-0 run, starting with a Heenan three, followed by four points from Wootton and a Gentley layup. Cruz then got a steal and went to the line, making 1-of-2. The 10-0 run gave Foran a 13-point lead with two minutes to play.

“It was very important for our confidence,” said Kirkpatrick. “We were able to respond, which shows that were growing as a team. We just need to continue to do that each and every day."

East Haven (0-1)

Nate Furino 3 0-0 9  Ryan Spano 2 1-4 5  Ed Popolizio 10 0-2 22  Frank Camera 1 0-0 2  Gabe Longley 1 0-0 2  Totals: 17 1-6 40.

Foran (1-0)

Tyler Heenan 1 3-6 6  Mark Wootton 1 4-6 6  Victor Rios 1 0-0 2  Matt Cruz 5 4-6 17  John Shannon 1 0-0 2  Todd Gentley 8 1-1 17  Totals 17 12-19 50.

East Haven 7 10 12 11 - 40

Foran  9 17 12 12 - 50

3-pointers: East Haven- Furino 3, Popolizio 2,  Foran - Heenan 1, Cruz 3