Foran cagers hold off Easties

The Foran High boys basketball team came up with a signature win, defeating an aggressive and fast-moving East Haven team 48-46 on the road on Dec. 19.

Coach Tim Swaller’s young and inexperienced team, which graduated six seniors off of last year’s team, held up well down the stretch and managed to keep a pair of last-second shots from making their way home and either winning the game for East Haven or sending it into overtime.

“It’s never easy coming here (to East Haven) and winning,” Swaller said. “This is a tough place to play. There’s so much space away from the court and the crowd tonight was large and noisy.

“We made our foul shots late in the game, got a couple of key rebounds and made several key stops. This can be a character-building win.”

Foran (1-1) entered the final eight minutes up 37-27, but gradually saw that lead dwindle away as the Easties applied full-court pressure, went on a 7-0 run, and narrowed the Lions’ lead to 37-34.

Behind field goals from David Enders and Hawkins French, and a made free throw by Zach Tavitian, Foran pushed its lead to 44-36 with 3:12 to play.

And, the Lions clung to a four-point margin with 36.9 seconds left when Enders converted the second of two foul-shot attempts.

But a 3-pointer by the Easties Malachi Campbell from the right side with 21.1 seconds to play made it 47-46.

French hit on one-of-two from the foul line. Only 14.6 seconds remained, but it was enough time for East Haven to get a timeout and set up an offensive play.

“Normally, at home, you’d look for the two-point shot and see what happens from there,” said East Haven coach Rick Narracci. “We were hoping to isolate Malachi and get him the ball. Instead, it went back to him and he took a shot.

“Tim (Swaller) is a very good coach, one of the best in our conference (Southern Connecticut),” Narracci said. “They denied us any kind of a good look on those shots. They play outstanding defense.”

East Haven took an 11-8 lead in a first quarter that was filled with three-point field goals. There were four in all, two by each team.

Neither team was able to pull away in the second eight minutes, with the biggest edge going to Foran, 21-18, before holding on for a 22-21 advantage at the half.

The Lions came out in the third quarter and went on an 8-1 run and found themselves with an 11-point lead, after Tavitian made one of two free-throw tries with 3:40 left in the third period.

The final quarter proved to be a test for both squads.

“To hold them to 46 points after they scored 77 in their first game (a 77-65 win over Shelton), is a credit to our players,” Swaller said. “We really buckled down at times and we dug in well in that fourth quarter.”

Foran was led by 15 points each from Tavitian and French. Enders added nine, as the Lions made 16-of-40 from the floor while East Haven was 15-of-48.

Campbell had 16 and the Easties’ other quick guard, Nick Durso, chipped in with 11. East Haven made seven 3-pointers but was 9-of-21 from the foul line.

Tavitian had nine rebounds and Rob Ceballos added five as Foran had a 34-33 edge off the glass.

Michael Scuito picked up four of Foran’s 10 assists.

“We were a little late kicking it into gear in that fourth quarter,” Narracci said. “But I’ve constantly telling our guys that there aren’t any bad teams in the SCC. If you don’t come to play every night, you’re going to lose.”