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Hall Boys Basketball Upsets Conard on Senior Day

Hall junior James DeCristantis, being guarded by Conard's Casey Shane, was one of two Warriors to score in double figures Tuesday as Hall upset Conard. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Hall splits the season series with Conard after defeating the Chieftains at home on Senior Day.

Hall seniors with their families.. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Marlon Pitter.  Photos by Ronni Newton

Without a conference or state tournament berth to play for on Senior Day, the Hall High School boys basketball team had one goal on Tuesday morning in West Hartford: Beat Conard.

A win over the Chieftains would end a rough season on a positive note and earn the Warriors a split of their season series against their crosstown rivals.

“You don’t have to get them up – you have to calm them down for this game,” said Hall head coach Bryan Moretti.

The Chieftains, meanwhile, had already solidified a berth in the CIAC Division III Tournament, and they went in knowing a win over Hall would clinch a home game in the first round.

Senior Kachi Onoh and junior James DeCrisantis led the way for the Warriors with 10 points each, however, as Hall pulled away from a five-point halftime lead to play spoiler and upset Conard 43-33.

“They kept battling,” said Moretti. “In the last 10 games, we’ve had a lot of close games. We’ve just sort of lost it in the third quarter or late fourth quarter against good teams.”

Leading by eight early in the fourth quarter, Hall went on a five-minute, 7-0 run to distance itself from Conard. Onyx Erazo chipped in a layup to give the Warriors a 43-28 lead with just 2:43 to play, effectively sealing the victory.

Erazo scored five of his nine points in the fourth quarter, capitalizing on turnovers forced by teammates for fast break opportunities on the other end.

“We practiced well yesterday. I thought we were going to be ready to go,” said Conard head coach Jared Leghorn. “I gotta watch the film to figure out what exactly happened, but I thought it was all in our heads today. We were doing things we don’t normally do, and you can’t do that in a rivalry game on the road.”

Hall and Conard traded baskets for most of the first half as the game remained within one possession until late in the second quarter.

DeCristantis made a 3-pointer to open the scoring 51 seconds into the game. Larry Womack Jr. answered for the Chieftains about a minute later with a deep ball of his own.

After six lead changes and two ties in the first quarter, the Warriors took a 12-10 advantage into the second.

Hall and Conard continued to match each other blow for blow, but a DeCristantis 3-pointer gave the Warriors their first two-possession lead at 23-18 with 51 seconds remaining in the half.

Onoh opened the scoring in the second half with a putback layup two minutes into the third quarter, stretching Hall’s lead to 25-18.

Halfway into the third quarter, the Warriors led 30-20 as Erazo and Max Boyd started to make their presences felt in the second half. Erazo stepped up off the bench as the sixth man, and Boyd contributed after coming back from early foul trouble.

Conard clawed back into the game quickly with back-to-back 3-pointers by Arsen Shtefan and Josh Restrepo to cut Hall’s lead to four, but Jack del Coro scored to put the Warriors up 32-26 going into the fourth quarter.

The Chieftains failed to draw any closer in the final eight minutes of play.

The Warriors improve to 3-17 to finish the season, one where not many of their seniors were rife with experience. Michael Hardwick played his only season at Hall this year after transferring to the school. Noah Silverman battled injuries throughout his career, and the other seniors on the roster were cut twice but managed to rejoin the team, said Moretti.

Moretti said underclassmen who gained experience this year will be critical next season.

“They all played nonstop,” Moretti said. “They all got a zillion minutes. Their expectations are high. They all like basketball. They all want to be better at basketball. I’m excited to have them back.”

The Chieftains fall to 9-11 with the loss and will travel to their first-round game in the CIAC Tournament. For a program that hasn’t made the postseason in Leghorn’s first three years, he says this season is already a successful one. Still, the goal is to shake the loss and refocus for the state tournament.

“We’ve worked really hard to put ourselves in this spot,” Leghorn said. “Yes, it sucks that we lost today, but we have something that we are playing for still. We set some expectations for these next two weeks of practices and one of them is have some fun with it. We looked miserable out there, and we deserved to look miserable because we didn’t play very well. … Despite how bad today feels, we’ve gotta move on by tomorrow.”

The game was played at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, during West Hartford Public Schools winter break. Resident Daryl Jackson, owner/operator of the town’s year-old Chick-fil-A franchise, donated nearly 500 “be our guest” cards for a free meal or snack, which many likely used for lunch right after the game.

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Hall senior cheerleaders. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Hall’s fans, the Blue Reign, pretend to be bored and read the newspaper as Conard’s line-up is announced. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

No. 42, Hall senior Kachi Onoh, was one of two Warriors to score 10 points. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kachi Onoh (Hall) and Peter Simplicio (Conard). Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

George Andrews tries to get by James DeCrisantis. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard’s fans, the Red C, showed up in force. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

George Andrews guarded by Abijah Cole. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Casey Shane takes a shot. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ajaye Fair attempts a shot in traffic. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Onyx Erazo strips the ball from Casey Shane. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Peter Simplicio at the free throw line. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ajaye Fair takes a shot. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Larry Womack Jr. is guarded by Onyx Erazo. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kachi Onoh makes a shot near the end of the first half. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Michael Hardwick guards George Andrews. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Maxwell Boyd shoots a free throw. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

James DeCristantis with the ball. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Onyx Erazo. Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Zachary Ellovich powers by Conard’s Casey Shane Hall vs. Conard boys basketball. Feb. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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Marlon Pitter

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