Hosting their first boys basketball state tournament game since 2005, the Warriors fell to the Wreckers in the first round of the CIAC Division III Tournament.
By Marlon Pitter
Lucas Basich made seven 3-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points to power No. 19 Staples past No. 14 Hall 57-39 in the first round of the CIAC Division III Tournament Tuesday night in West Hartford.
Dadrien Ramos led Hall with 20 points, but the Warriors were not able to sustain scoring or contain Basich consistently in the first-round defeat.
“They obviously shot the ball really well,” said Hall head coach Bryan Moretti. “It’s tough to win when a kid hits seven threes. And we struggled. We couldn’t make shots. We couldn’t make a lot of easy inside shots, but we were still down eight at halftime. We cut it to six a couple times, and then they kept hitting big shots.”
Basich scored 12 first-half points – all from beyond the arc – to give Staples a 28-20 lead at halftime. Hall made it a one-possession game with a 5-0 run to start the third quarter, but Staples (10-11) stretched its lead with a 10-2 run of its own.
The Wreckers led 43-34 to start the fourth quarter and continued to do damage offensively, outscoring the Warriors 14-5. Basich reached the 20-point mark on a layup with 5:23 remaining. He followed up with a 3-pointer at the 4:54 mark to gave Staples a 50-36 lead.
Hall (12-10) jumped out to a 5-0 run in the first quarter, but Staples found its rhythm offensively and drew the game tied at 10 heading into the second.
After a pair of Hall free throws, the Wreckers scored the next seven points to take a 17-12 lead. Basich made three 3-pointers as part of a 9-2 Staples run to give the Wreckers a 26-16 advantage with 2:08 in the half.
As the only offensive presence for Hall, Ramos took it upon himself to create baskets for the Warriors. When he didn’t drive to the basket for points, he spotted up for three made 3-pointers on the night.
Ramos said he could see that the Warriors needed him to step up to have a chance at winning.
“In the first half … I felt like I had to be not only a vocal leader but just a leader all around on the court,” Ramos said. “I had to take it into my own hands because I felt like Max Boyd wasn’t getting the calls that he deserved at some points, so I felt like, if I brought it to the rim, I’d take a little bit of stress off of his shoulders.”
Over the course of a year, Ramos went from being benched late in the season to a key player in a turnaround season and state tournament game. He credited the Hall coaching staff with improving his confidence to play at a high level.
“For the coaching staff to bring my confidence level through the roof from my freshman year to my senior year, I think I’ve become not only a better basketball player but a better person overall,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough.”
Moretti, too, has seen Ramos’ improvement throughout the past year. Moretti said Ramos and the other five seniors have been instrumental to the program.
“You guys don’t see a lot of the stuff the seniors do,” Moretti said. “That’s the best part about them. They enforce practice. They make practices productive every single day.”
Tuesday’s contest marked the first boys post-season basketball home game for Hall since 2005. For Moretti, the focus now shifts to the offseason and making sure his team is prepared for next season.
“Again, Dadrien [Ramos] didn’t play last year at the end of the year,” he said. “Then he comes this year, he averages 14 [points] a game, he’s our leading rebounder, so he obviously worked on his game. Hopefully guys work on their game. I’m going to keep telling them to work on their game, so hopefully they follow through.”
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