Lions knock off Green Dragons

In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Foran High boys basketball team was looking to break out when Hamden High visited Edna Fraser Gymnasium on Monday night.

Behind a gritty effort from senior point guard Matt Gomes and strong performance from the Lions’ bench, Foran defeated the Green Dragons, 52-45, in the Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision contest.

“It was nice to win and get ourselves back on track,” Foran coach Tim Swaller said. “We’ve played well recently. Friday I thought we played really well but we came up short [a buzzer-beating loss to Cheshire]… It was nice tonight not only to play well, to finish the game and come out on top.”

Gomes scored a game-high 20 points, including a 14-for-21 performance from the foul line.

“Gomes was terrific. He pushed the pace,” Swaller said. “Not only was he aggressive, he was smart. He took care of the ball. They had a tough time keeping him out of the paint.”

Senior guard Nick Weissauer chipped in with 12 points off the bench and Rob Ceballos added six. All three of the junior forward’s baskets came in the first half, when the Lions took control of the game despite foul trouble for starters Bob Notholt and Sean Deegan.

“Rob hadn’t played a lot recently and he responded and played tremendously,” Swaller said. “He answered the call.”

Foran improved to 5-8, while Hamden tumbled to 4-7. The Green Dragons had previously beat the Lions by a 55-32 margin in the season opener back on Dec. 18.

In the return bout, Weissauer capped a 16-4 Foran burst to close the first half by drawing a foul shooting a 3-pointer with .8 seconds left in the second quarter. He sank all three attempts, staking the Lions to a 32-23 edge.

It took Hamden under two minutes to nearly overturn its deficit at the start of the third period, as the Dragons ripped off an 8-0 burst keyed by a 3-pointer from Blair Johnson (13 points).

A foul shot from Dylan Noble narrowed Hamden’s gap to 32-31, before Weissauer knocked down a critical 3-pointer from the right wing — with Gomes providing the assist. From there, the Lions maintained a lead of a least three points the rest of the way.

“We came out flat. The first two, three minutes (of the third quarter) we had no energy,” Swaller said. “Nick hit a big shot. He got his feet underneath him.”

Leading 38-35 heading into the final stanza, Tyler Kasuba’s basket with six minutes left, followed by a scoop layup in traffic from Gomes, extended Foran’s advantage to 42-35.

Noble drove the lane for a layup, before Gomes found Deegan underneath for a lay-in with 4:19 remaining to reestablish a seven-point Lions’ cushion.

That was the final basket of the game for the locals, but the Lions salted time off of the clock, including over 80 seconds on one possession, and hit 8-of-11 free throws down the stretch.

Gomes was 5-for-6 from the stripe during that span, as the Lions secured their first win since downing Jonathan Law on Jan. 4.

Foran travels to Richetelli Gymnasium to face Law on Friday at 7.

“Crosstown rivalry game, it’s going to be a tough one,” Swaller said.

In the Lions’ setback to Cheshire High on Friday night, the Rams’ Andrew Yarmin made a shot as time expired to lift his team to a 59-57 victory. Notholt scored 23 points, Deegan 12, Weissauer 11 and Gomes nine for the Lions. Yarmin had 20 points for Cheshire (6-4).