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Boys basketball: Fast start sends Staples past New Canaan

Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Ryan Lacey,Westport News

WESPTORT — The Staples boys basketball team was ready to play from the tipoff in its season opener Saturday. One of its star seniors set the tone, and a strong collective defensive effort did the rest.

The Wreckers scored 19 points — including 11 from Sean Pritchett — in the opening eight minutes and used their advantage to topple the Rams 59-49. Pritchett scored 27 points for Staples (1-0), which along with the Rams is participating in a tournament with Darien and Trumbull.

“For our first game, we played together and we got a much-needed win,” said Staples coach Colin Devine. “There was a little bit of December basketball. It was close at the end; I think the seniors did a good job and we were able to win a close game.”

The game wasn’t close for most of the second half before the Rams made a late comeback attempt. A layup from Pritchett gave the Wreckers a 51-34 lead with 3:30 left. Tyler Sweeney — who led the Rams with 20 points — scored seven in a quick span to the deficit to 53-44 with more than a minute to play. Cam Nelson then buried a triple to make it 55-47 with 49 seconds left, but New Canaan wouldn’t get closer.

The defeat came in the first game for new Rams coach Danny Melzer, who went 51-38 in four seasons at Stamford.

“If there’s one thing we’re going to do all year is play until the end,” Melzer said. “We did that tonight.

“It’s the beginning of the season, they’re still getting used to the coaching staff. We’ve got some work to do; I liked our effort tonight.”

The Wreckers — who struggled at the foul line for much of the game — hit enough free throws and got several more stops down the stretch to win the game.

“I thought our defense in the third and fourth quarter won the game,” Devine said. “In the first quarter we got out on the break and hit open 3s; if we can make three or four passes we’re good to go.”

A jumper by Pritchett gave Staples a 19-9 lead with 2:40 left in the first, and though its offensive output slowed after that, Staples forced many turnovers to keep its advantage. The Wreckers’ lead was never less than six points for the rest of the game in winning wire-to-wire.

“(Staples) runs good stuff,” Melzer said. “We made good adjustments and played better but we can’t give good teams leads. We’ve got to come out and ready to play from the start.”

rlacey@bcnnew.com, twitter.com/ryanlacey11

STAPLES 59, NEW CANAAN 49

NEW CANAAN (0-1)

Cam Nelson 1 0-0 3 Charlie Grow 1 0-0 2 Tim Russo 4 0-2 8 Tyler Sweeney 8 2-3 20 Luke Crawford 4 1-2 12 Jake Richardson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 3-7 49.

STAPLES (1-0)

Justin Seideman 3 3-6 9 Sean Pritchett 10 5-7 27 Max Sussman 4 6-8 17 Evan Vishno 2 0-0 5 Ben Pearl 0 1-3 1 0 0-0 0 Matt Fair 0 0-0 0 Gabe Wick 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 15-24 59.

NEW CANAAN 12 7 8 22—49

STAPLES 19 12 9 19—59

3-pointers: NC—Nelson, Sweeney 2, Crawford 3; S—Pritchett 2, Sussman 3, Vishno.

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