Schools Sports

Back-to-Back Games Unkind to Titans

Anthony McKeown of Hall goes past Quentin Ford of Manchester on his way to the basket. Hall vs. Manchester. Jan. 25, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Manchester Tops Hall boys, 82-53.

Chase Hanawalt of Hall gets the contact on his way to the basket against Manchester. Hall vs. Manchester. Jan. 25, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

By Paul Palmer

Transition was the word of the night Thursday in West Hartford as Hall basketball fell to Manchester.

The Red Hawks dominated using a transition game that had speed, accuracy, and ball control. Hall coach Bryan Moretti got to transition using some of his younger players when the game got out of control in the second half.

“In the first half we missed a lot of easy shots,” said Moretti. “When they (Manchester) get into transition, you have problems.”

Playing just one night after a three-point loss, 58-55, at Middletown, the Titans had a good first quarter and took a 9-7 lead on Chase Hanawalt’s put back basket with just under 6 minutes played. The senior forward later found Justin Joiner, who got a defender to leave his feet, giving him the easy short basket.

DaVonta Gaston of Hall is fouled by Manchester’s Malachi Ellis. Hall vs. Manchester. Jan. 25, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

At the end of one, Hall had a 13-12 lead. Things did not go well after that.

Manchester’s William Tann got hot, really hot, hitting from 3 and driving to the hoop with equal ease on his way to a game high 31 points. His 3 just 1:44 into the second gave the visitors a 23-18 lead.

Hanawalt would grab a rebound and put back the Anthony McKeown miss to cut it to a three-point game. But the transition and ball movement by Manchester was almost blinding. The foot speed to push the tempo, the ability to shake defenders, and the accuracy of their passes, wore down the Hall defense. When Chance Clark  hit two free throws with just over 2 to play, it was suddenly a 32-24 game.

Anthony McKeown of Hall brings the ball upcourt against Manchester’s Chance Clark. Hall vs. Manchester. Jan. 25, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Manchester also benefitted from a strong first half from sophomore Derrick Sheets who went for a game high 14 in the half. “He has probably the quickest release we will see all year,” Moretti said of Sheets. As for his own team, Moretti said it was a matter of making the game too complicated. “When we make simple plays, we get good looks.”

Manchester did not allowed many second chances to Hall and would run the ball in transition with a passing game, sometimes not even having to dribble once they got set up in the offensive zone. Their ability to roll off picks, drive, draw defenders then kick the ball out for 3s allowed them to build a big lead and control the second half of the game.

The best example may have come when Manchester inbounded the ball from the sidelines in the Hall zone. With the ball never touching the court, it ended up in the Manchester basket after three passes led to a lay-in and a score of 42-27.

As the deficit mounted, Moretti opted to rest his starters and let others get some experience. “You put this game in the memory bank and move on,” he said. “Our energy was low. It’s just a tough part of the season.”

Jayveon Robinson (4) of Manchester gets the block on Hall’s Colin McGann. Hall vs. Manchester. Jan. 25, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

One bright spot for Hall was the play of sophomore Max St. Arromand. He was active on the boards at both ends of the court and had a couple of blocks as well. “He’s just figuring it all out, knowing how hard he has to play,” Moretti said of St. Arromand.

Manchester (11-2) kept several of its starters in well after the outcome was in doubt and by the time the final horn sounded it was a resounding 82-53 win for the Red Hawks. The loss drops Hall to 8-5 and is the first two-game losing streak of the season for the Titans.

Hall will try to get back in the win column on Tuesday when they play at 8-4 Glastonbury – a team ranked three spots above the Titans in the rankings before the Thursday loss.

Hall coach Bryan Moretti talks it over with his team during the second half. Hall vs. Manchester. Jan. 25, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

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