UPDATED Basketball: Law defeats Foran, earns tourney berth
The Jonathan Law boys basketball team qualified for the state tournament with a pulsating 62-57 victory over rival Foran on Monday before a large crowd at the James Richetelli Sr. Gymnasium.
“It has been eight years,” Law’s first-year coach Jamie Anderson said of the playoff drought, after his Lawmen improved to 8-10. “These seniors doubled their wins (4-56 the last three years) in one season. I asked them to be leaders for us on their way out, which is hard to do. I’m so proud of them.”
Conor Creane, Dean Pettway and Carl Maxwell are upperclassmen who all started for Law.
They had a profound impact on the Lawmen extending their season.
Creane scored 19 points, and hit a 3-pointer to snap the game’s sixth and final tie at 45-all midway through the final quarter.
Pettway, who had 10 points in the second quarter when Law turned a two-point deficit into a 21-8 lead, led the Lawmen in transition down the stretch.
Maxwell, who has filled a role of defender, rebounder and screener, added scorer to his resume with three straight buckets to provide Law with a 54-49 lead with 2:35 remaining.
“Law played a great game,” Foran coach Ian Kirkpatrick said. “They executed well, especially in the fourth quarter. They had an answer for everything we threw at them.”
Matt Cruz (22 points) and Todd Gentley (15 points) were the most prolific scorers for the Lions, now 10-9.
The tandem each had a bucket in the final minutes, and Cruz scored on a dazzling run out to pull Foran within 55-51 with 1:35 remaining.
Law's Jon Vitale made a pair of pressure-packed free throws, before Diontae Eddy (16 points) turned a defensive rebound into a breakaway basket by Creane.
Vitale forced a turnover with 6.2 seconds remaining and Law had punched its ticket to the CIAC Division IV tournament.
Foran took an 8-6 lead in the first quarter.
With Mark Wootton out with an injury, Kirkpatrick went to his bench to fill in his rotation and received stellar performances from freshman guard Michael Simonelli and sophomore forward Jason Giambra.
Cruz had a 3-pointer in the opening stanza, Gentley and Simonelli had buckets and Tyler Heenan a steal and an assist.
Pettway went off with 10 straight points for Law in the second period, with Vitale assisting on both shots with well-timed kick-out passes from the baseline. Zane Birks added a jumper and assisted on a Creane 3-pointer.
Foran had answers. John Shannon made the first of his trio of 3-pointers, Victor Rios and Simonelli assisted on baskets, and Cruz scored five points to make it 21-18 in favor of the Lawmen at the half.
Foran looked inside to open the third quarter and found Gentley. The senior tri-captain while well-defended, powered through for a pair of baskets — the second becoming a three-point play. Heenan passed to Cruz for a trey and the game was tied at 26 at the 4:25 mark.
When Law doubled down on Gentley, he quickly passed the ball out to Shannon for a 3-pointer and a two-point lead.
Hennan took a pass from Giambra for a 3-pointer, and Simonelli found Giambra for a press-break basket and a 34-28 Lion lead.
Eady, who efficiently ran the Law attack, had six points and an assist to bring his team back.
Simonelli split two defenders and spun the ball off the glass, before Creane came around a Tyler McKenna-Hansen screen and drilled a 3-pointer to cut Law’s deficit to 36-35.
Law’s Garrett Tutlis countered a Gentley drive with a foul-line jumper and then stole the ball and fed Vitale for a breakaway hoop.
Cruz and Shannon made 3-pointers to tie the game at 45-all and set up the stirring finish.
Diontae Eady 5 6-8, 16 Conor Creane 7 1-1, 19 Zane Birks 1 0-0, 2 Jon Vitale 1 2-2, 4 Will Contaxis 0 0-0, 0 Tyler McKenna-Hansen 0 0-0, 0 Carl Maxwell 3 0-0, 6 Garrett Tutlis 2 0-2, 4 Totals: 23 10-16, 62
Tyler Heenan 1 0-0, 3 Victor Rios 0 0-0, 0 Matt Cruz 8 1-2, 22 John Shannon 4 0-0, 11 Todd Gentley 6 3-7, 15 Michael Simonelli 2 0-0, 4 Jason Giambra 1 0-0, 2 Anthony Davis 0 0-0, 0 Totals: 22 4-9, 57
Law 16 15 14 27 — 62
Foran 8 10 18 21 — 57
3-pointers: L—Pettway 2, Creane 4; F — Cruz 5, Heenan 1, Shannon 3