Foran High cagers go out on top
Matt Gomes and his five senior teammates on the Foran High boys basketball team made a silent pact.
Coach Tim Swaller’s point guard and his classmates vowed they were going to go out as winners when the Lions wrapped up their season with a game with Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) rival Sheehan of Wallingford at the Edna Fraser Gymnasium on Friday.
Gomes, Tyler Kasuba, Bob Notholt, Nick Weissauer and Billy Suech were honored before the game. After the tip-off, Suech scored a career-high 17 points and the Lions rallied for a 58-53 victory over the Titans.
Foran closed out its year with a 7-13 record, one win short of making either the SCC playoffs or the Class M state tournament.
“Getting it done tonight and winning on Senior Night was all that mattered to us,” said Gomes, who had six points, four of his teams’ 10 assists, and two steals.
“We had a tough stretch (losses earlier in the week to Guilford and Branford squashed any chances that Foran had of continuing its season past Friday night). Those three- and four-point losses were killers for us.”
A 36-33 defeat to Branford on Wednesday was typical of how Foran’s season went. But the Lions rose to the occasion on Friday. They made 10 three-pointers and converted on 11-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Suech made five threes and knocked down two shots from the foul line with 9.5 seconds left, extending Foran’s lead to 57-53, which gave the Lions the cushion they needed.
“Billy stepped up and had the game of his life tonight,” Swaller said. “Our entire team played with a ton of pride against Sheehan (7-12 and with one game left still alive for the postseason).
“Obviously, our seniors knew that this was going to be the last game of their high-school careers.
“Tonight, we hit shots (Foran was 16 of 44), played with energy and defended well. We couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the season.”
Foran trailed 11-9 after one quarter, before outscoring Sheehan 20-13 for a 29-24 halftime lead.
Behind a 19-point game from Mike Tiedemann and a 13-point effort from Brandon Rentas, the Titans bounced back, taking a 39-36 lead on a 3-pointer by Tommy Laydon with a little over two minutes to play in the third quarter.
But the Lions, behind a three from Weissauer, tied it at 39-all before Notholt got open inside and scored to give Foran a 41-39 lead.
That gap was closed to a point, 41-40, after 24 minutes.
A pair of successful free throws by Notholt widened Foran’s margin to 43-40.
The Lions, however, weren’t able to pull away and when Tiedemann hit the second of his consecutive 3-pointers, Sheehan got the lead back at 50-49.
The Titans were forced to foul down the stretch and the Lions made six straight for the win.
“We played well in both of our losses this week,” Swaller said. “We were extremely competitive. It’s unfortunate that we came up a little short of where we would’ve liked to have been (in the playoffs and the state tournament).”
In addition to Suech, who made 5-of-7 shots, Weissauer and Notholt also hit double figures. Notholt had 14 points and Weissauer, 12, all on threes. Notholt led Foran with 10 of its 30 rebounds.
Foran had seven turnovers for the game, but only one in the second half. Sheehan committed 10 turnovers.
Notholt scored 12 points and Weissauer had 11 in the loss to Branford (10-9). when the Foran dropped a 36-33 decision at Branford High on Wednesday.
Foran held a 14-6 lead after one period, but managed only single-digit scoring in each of the next three quarters.
Branford trailed 19-11 at the half and 24-21 going into the final frame. Weissauer made three 3-pointers, but Foran was only 5-for-13 from the foul line. Branford canned 10-of-16 freebies.