Boys basketball: Foran Lions hold off Shelton Gaels

All that matters in basketball is if you win, not how you win.

With that said, the Foran High boys basketball team did just enough to pull out an important 51-48 road victory over Shelton Friday night at Murray Gymnasium.

“It was a gritty performance for sure,” said Foran coach Ian Kirkpatrick. “In the fourth [quarter], we were 6-of-17 for free throws. So, we have to do a better job closing out games if we want to reach our goals this year.”

The Lions (6-5) could not have been much colder than they were from the floor in the first half.

Foran scored just 10 points in the game’s first 13-plus minutes. But its defense kept the deficit within reason, as the Lions were only down 20-10 at that point.

The Lion comeback started late in the first half, when senior tri-captain Todd Gentley hit a shot in the post, added two free throws, and Victor Rios connected on a 3-pointer. Foran had pulled within 24-17 at the half.

The third quarter saw a different Foran team than the one that played the first half.

The Lions outscored Shelton 22-9 to take a 39-33 into the final period.

“What I told them in the locker room was that we just needed to hit that big shot to get us going,” said Kirkpatrick of his halftime speech. “Tyler Heenan made a three from the top of the key, and from there, everyone fed off that.”

Heenan also converted a steal into an easy lay-up and John Shannon scored six of his eight points to help fuel the Foran run.

The Lions would never trail again, but it got dicey in the final minutes of the game.

Foran went up 44-36 on a Gentley (10 points) post move with 5:10 left.

Another Gentley score in the paint put Foran up by four points, 46-42, with 3:20 remaining.

But that’s when things started to get hairy for the Lions.

Shelton’s Peri Basimakopoulos nailed a trey to cut Foran’s lead to just one point, 46-45, and the Lions then missed seven straight free throws over a span of 1:17, including the front end of three one-and-ones.

But Shelton was just as bad as Foran over that stretch, failing to score on five straight possessions.

Foran’s Mark Wootton ended the free throw misery by making three-of-four within a 15-second span to boost the Foran advantage up to four, 49-45.

Shelton made three-of-four free throws around a Matt Cruz foul shot, and forced a turnover to get the ball back with 23 seconds left trailing 50-48.

But after a timeout with 10 seconds left, Heenan stole a Shelton inbounds pass that was earmarked for Shelton’s leading scorer Brian Berritto at the top of the arc.

Heenan was fouled and made a free throw to make it 51-48 with eight ticks remaining.

The Gaels (1-10) had one final chance to send the game into overtime, but a Basimakopoulos off-balance three from the right wing missed at the buzzer.

Senior tri-captain Cruz led all scorers with 15 points.

Heenan added nine and Wootton six for the Lions.

Foran also survived a scare earlier in the week, holding off Branford 54-51 on the road Tuesday night.

“These last couple of wins may not look pretty, but they are in the win column,” said Kirkpatrick.

The Lions return to the friendly confines of Edna Fraser Gymnasium on Monday night with a game at 7 against North Haven. Foran beat the Indians 64-51 earlier this month.

Lion notes: The Shelton game was part of the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Coaches vs. Cancer program. The initiative helps raise both money and awareness in the fight against cancer.

Foran               10  7 22 12 — 51

Shelton           11 13  9 15 — 48

Foran (6-5)

Tyler Heenan 3 1-2 9, Mark Wootton 1 3-4 6, Victor Rios 1 0-0 3, Matt Cruz 5 2-6 15, John Shannon 4 0-3 8, Todd Gentley 4 2-4 10. Totals: 18 8-19 51

Shelton (1-10)

Brian Berritto 4 1-1 10, Kyle Davis 2 0-0 4, Kevin Belden 0 0-0 0, Peri Basimakopoulos 4 0-0 12, Will Ciccone 2 5-6 11, Brian Belade 0 0-0 0, Matt Hunyadi 4 0-0 11, Michai Lynch 0 0-0 0, Robert Correia 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 6-7 48

3-point goals: Amity (Heenan 2, Wootton 1, Rios 1, Cruz 3); Shelton (Berritto 1, Basimakopoulos 4, Hunyadi 3, Ciccone 2)