Chiefs Still BL's Big Boys
Chiefs Still BL’s Big Boys
WOODBURY – Just when you thought that maybe the complexion of the Berkshire League had changed. Just when you thought the guys wearing the blue and gold with the blue blood pedigree were back on top.
Along comes Nonnewaug with a powerful reminder – it isn’t going to quite that easy.
In a marquee Monday night matchup the Chiefs used 20 minutes of domination to build up a big lead and then withstood a three-point blitzkrieg from Gilbert to hold on for a 58-49 in sizzling sweatbox, energetic conditions.
Gilbert(9-1) entered the contest with an undefeated record and a chance to take a two-game lead at the halfway point of the BL season. The Yellowjackets were coming off impressive wins over Litchfield and Northwestern in recent games.
Meanwhile, Nonnewaug (10-1) had seen its 31-game BL win streak ended last week at the hands of Northwestern. So you wondered. Has Nonnewaug’s time at the top come to an end?
Wonder no more.
With half a season to go, the title still goes through the Chiefs. Gilbert coach Mark Douglass had given the Chiefs their due last week, saying until somebody beats Nonnewaug, they are the team to beat and there was nothing this time around to change his mind.
“They had a bump in the road but I told our kids they would be hungry,” said Douglass. “We’ve got to learn to beat them when they come in to our house.’
Nonnewaug senior Cody St. John couldn’t agree more about the Chiefs being the team to beat.
“It all sounds fair to me,” said St. John who scored a game-high 18 points and played a fine floor game.
Nonnewaug totally befuddled the Yellowjackets well into the third quarter with its matchup zone, made even tougher with its length. Gilbert rarely got a good shot (6-for-27 in the first half) and turned the ball over with stunning regularity, losing the ball 15 times in the first half.
In slightly less than four minutes, the Chiefs had opened up an 11-2 lead. Pat Potter turned three turnovers into baskets to highlight the run. Gilbert’s problems were further magnified when 6-foot-5 center Austin Brochu went to the bench with a knee injury just over two minutes into the game. He would return later, but clearly not 100 percent.
Gilbert’s woes continued well into the second quarter. Despite a Brochu three-pointer, Nonnewaug went on a 12-3 run to double up the Jackets, 30-15 with 2:32 left in the half.
“They were using a matchup zone and our kids didn’t understand that you have to run a man-to-man offense against it,” said Douglass. “It was the first time they have ever seen it.”
St. John noted the Jackets confusion.
“We just sat back in our match up and (Gilbert) didn’t go much,” said St. John. “If we had made our foul shots we would have been up by 20 points.”
Even when the pace seemed to favor Gilbert, Nonnewaug’s height seemed to prevent andy kind of rhythm. There were no drives to the hoop and more than a few nasty clangs of the backboard and rim.
Nonnewaug’s own sloppiness with 12 turnovers and an 11-for-30 shooting effort in the first half prevented the Chiefs from putting the game in the win column early. It almost cost the Chiefs the game.
Just when the yawns were coming with regularity with the Chiefs holding a 34-18 edge early in the third quarter, Gilbert’s explosive nature asserted itself and they began to bombard three-pointers on the Chiefs.
Brochu (16 points) started if from the right side followed by Robert Skinner (14 points) with a two-pointer and then a trey from deep near the side line and then Brochu canned another one and suddenly it was 36-29.
By the end of the third quarter Gilbert trailed just, 38-31, and the blowout became a sweat-it-out affair for the Chiefs. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, the hobbled Brochu found the range again from long distance and after a St. John basket, Skinner hit a hellacious three-pointer from about 25 feet to make it a three-point game, 42-39, with 5:18 to go.
Gilbert fired in nine three-pointers for the game, eight in the second half while making only seven traditional baskets in the game. Brochu and Skinner registered four treys each.
The offensive explosion only served to make the game exciting, however, and to insure you put the second meeting between the two teams on your schedule. Nonnewaug was not about to let it all fall away on this night.
Collin Schneider hit three free throws to up the lead to 45-39. After Gilbert’s Devon Molway hit a layup, Dylan Martland scored and Kyle Kenned hit a free throw for a 48-41 lead. The Chiefs, despite a 20-for-35 effort from the foul line, hit just enough free throws down the stretch to keep the Yellojackets at bay.
“They hit some big shots, had a lot of fans and started to get more into it,” said Nonnewaug coach Tim Drakeley of the Gilbert comeback. But, I was confident we would tonight. I thought we would take care of business.”
Elide Romero scored 10 points and hauled in 14 rebounds for the Yellowjackets while Martland had 11 points and nine boards for the Chiefs.
The point of the night? It is still Nonnewaug for now.
Nonnewaug 58, Gilbert 49
Gilbert (9-1): Austin Brochu 6 0 16, Guillermo Deolmo 0 2 2 , Devon Molway 2 0 5, Elide Romero 2 6 10, Robert Skinner 5 0 14, Dan Williams 1 0 2, Greg Hicks 0 0 0, J.P. Duluc 0 0 0, Totals 16 8 49.
Nonnewaug (10-1): Cody St. John 6 6 18, Pat Potter 3 1 7, Bryan Charette 1 1 3, Ben Timme 2 3 7, Dylan Martland 5 1 11, Colin Schneider 2 7 11, Kyle Kennedy 0 1 1, totals 19 20 58
Nonn. 18 12 8 20—58
Gilbert 10 8 13 18--49
3-point goals: G – Brochu 4, Skinner 4, Molway 1; N – none.