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Conard Basketball Stays Hot on Emotional Senior Night

Riley Fox drives to the basket for 2 of his game-high 30 points. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Family and friends bid farewell to five seniors Friday night when West Hartford’s Conard High School hosted Platt.

Sports reporting is sponsored by Keating Agency

Aidan Scully hits one of his seven three-point shots on the night. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

By Paul Palmer

It was a night that started with emotion and a few tears and ended that way as Conard honored its senior basketball players, and then went out and won its eighth straight game with a 68-53 win over Platt.

The victory moves the Red Wolves to 13-5 after starting the season 0-2, then losing three of their first four and five of their first six. Conard had one of the state’s toughest schedules to begin the year and also lost senior Jaydon Schuler for the year during that stretch.

“The hard schedule only prepared us,” said senior Riley Fox, who hit for 30 points in the game. “We started winning and got momentum and we reestablished the winning culture we wanted to have.”

Seniors Jaydon Schuler and Riley Fox are all smiles as Fox checks out of the Senior Night win over Platt. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

The five seniors that were honored before the game have all contributed not only this season, but throughout their careers. “I had known Riley since he was in middle school and his freshman year we had him on the bench early on to learn the culture,” said head coach Jared Leghorn. “[Aidan] Scully and Noah [Amstrong] played very little at varsity last year, but their years of hard work have paid off. Julius [Goode] has battled injuries the last two years but just kept coming back. Jaydon [Schuler] – his force is just so powerful on this team. I am so proud of all these seniors,” the coach said.

Julius Goode and his family on Senior Night. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

It was clear that the night meant a lot to the players as well, especially Fox who had his teammate and bother Aidan and his parents walk out with him. At times, Fox wiped tears away as he took it all in. “It was pretty special,” said the Yale-bound Fox. “My four years here and thinking about it and all my guys on the team and people I grew up with.”

Fittingly it was the seniors who got Conard going in the first quarter. Fox and Scully both hit early 3s to put the Red Wolves up 6-3, 2:00 in. By the end of the first, Fox had seven of Conard’s total 15 points as they led 15-9. In the second, Conard seemed to suddenly have the jitters as they turned the ball over and committed fouls, but fortunately for them Platt was also struggling to find its way.

Aidan Scully is honored on Senior Night at Conard. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

When Scully drilled the second of his seven 3-pointers on the night, his team seemed to settle down. The hosts lived on the 3 all night, especially Fox and Scully. At the half Conard had seven 3s – Fox had 12 points, Scully nine, and the Red Wolves led 31-16.

Early in the third, Scully hit back-to-back 3s from the same spot on the floor to help Conard build a 19-point lead with 4:14 to go in the quarter. Fox would match the back-to-back 3s later in the quarter, Scully would block shots on back-to-back Platt possessions, and the Red Wolves were up 51-35 after three. “Everyone does something to help this team every day,” Scully said. “We are a family and I am so blessed and honored.”

Noah Amstrong scored 10 points for Conard on Senior Night. Conard vs. Platt. Feb. 16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Platt made a run in the fourth as Jason Delevante hit a 3 of his own and following another basket for the Panthers it was back to a 10-point game. Leghorn called a timeout to settle his team, and his seniors decided to put the team on their back.

Fox hit a pair of free throws, and a layup, Scully nailed another 3 and with 4:18 to go, the lead was back to 16. Aidan Fox scored and then Scully hit his seventh 3 and it was now 64-46. That effectively ended any chance for the Panthers and Leghorn was able to take his seniors out and let them get the hand they had earned on the way to a 68-53 win.

In addition to the 21 points for Scully and 30 for Fox, Armstong also added 10 for Conard. On the night, Conard hit 13 3-pointers from all over the court. “Winning on Senior Night is everything for an athlete,” Scully said after the game.”It is something an athlete can only dream of.”

Maurice King of Conard is challenged by a Platt defender. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

For Leghorn the win and win streak help reinforce what the coaching staff has been telling the players all along. “Everyone says trust the process but that’s tough when you are 2-4,” he said. “Now we just have to keep it going because there is no trophy for the regular season.”

Conard continues a brutal stretch of games. Having played Thursday night and Friday night, and they are back on the court at 11 a.m. Saturday morning at Bloomfield. After that it is the home finale on Tuesday with Hall, and an opener in the CCC Tournament on Thursday.

Riley Fox (center) with his parents and brother Aidan on Senior Night. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Friday night was a time to reflect on and celebrate what the team and players had achieved and what they will remember most about their time at Conard. For Fox, it has been an especially memorable season, not just for his play, but for being able to share the court with his younger brother. “It is such an amazing, special thing and a lot of people don’t ever get to do that,” Riley Fox said, his voice trailing off and his eyes getting red again. For Scully, playing alongside Fox has also been special, not only for the basketball, but for the friendship they have established. “He is one of my best friends,” Scully said. “Not everybody gets a chance to play with somebody like Riley.”

Riley Fox made several trips to the free throw line against Platt. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

In his four years with Conard, Fox has rewritten the school record book in nearly every offensive category, and he still has time to add to those lofty totals over the remainder of the regular and post seasons. “I remember as a freshman after the first few games and practices, I started to think that I could produce for this team,” he said. “What I will remember most of going out to eat after the games with my teammates. The memories we have made off the court will last me a lifetime,” Fox added.

For Leghorn, having the ability to coach and mentor a player and a person like Fox has been something incredibly special, and he gets emotional talking about it. “We have grown really close. He will be a friend for life,” Leghorn said, his voice filling with emotion. “It goes beyond basketball as Riley has worked for all the good things that are coming to him.”

Julius Goode muscles through two defenders. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Fox Facts

  • Riley Fox is Conard’s all-time leading scorer with 1,958 points and counting.
  • He has the top three seasons with the most points in school history: 632 in 2021-22, 571 last season, and right now 526 (and counting) this season.
  • Fox holds the top three spots when it comes to most points in a single game all-time for Conard: 50 vs. Bulkley in the 21-22 season, 44 vs. Farmington in the State Tournament last year, and 42 against Hall in the 21-22 season.
  • He also holds the Conard marks for point per game, averaging 23.5; his 8.9 rebounds per game is the best in school history, as are his 108 steals. He is second all-time behind former teammate Declan McCann in assists. (All prior to Friday night’s game.)

Noah Armstrong (13) and Aidan Scully (35) get congratulations as they leave the game. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Senior Noah Amstrong is honored before the game. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Jaydon Schuler has been sorely missed after suffering an injury early in his senior season. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Aidan Fox puts up a 3 against Platt. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Julius Goode looks for space as he heads to the basket. Conard vs. Platt. Feb.16, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

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