Sarmiento lifts Gilbert past Lewis Mills
WINSTED - It's Yoharkey Sarmiento's turn to step up and be the leader of the Gilbert High boys basketball team and on Monday night the senior showed signs he is ready to assume the role.
Sarmiento hit a huge jumper with just over a minute to play and had a big block on the next possession to lead Gilbert to a 57-52 victory over Lewis Mills in a Berkshire League matchup at The Hive.
The Yellowjackets improved to 3-0 on the season with the win while the Spartans dropped to 3-1.
"This kind of game is good for us," Gilbert coach Mark Douglass said. "I need to get these kids into these kinds of pressure situations so they know how to handle them and not get rattled."
Gibert made plays when it needed them and that started with Sarmiento, who scored 24 points and made a couple of huge plays in the game's final minute.
Mills was down 40-30 entering the fourth but fought back to tie the game, 50-50, on a layup by Spencer Maloney off a nice feed from Justin Pease. The layup capped a 6-0 run that was aided by a couple misses in the lane by the Yellowjackets and a questionable long three-point attempt by Sarmiento with Gilbert up by six.
Over the past couple seasons the Yellowjackets have been one of the tougher teams in the BL and have been able to turn to players like Austin Brochu or Robert Skinner in big spots, now it looks like the Yellowjackets will lean on Sarmiento and on Monday he was up to the challenge.
After the layup by Maloney, Gilbert came down and got the ball to Sarmiento, who hit a tough jumper in traffic from about 17 feet to put the Yellowjackets up 52-50 with a minute to play. Sarmiento then came up with a big block on the Spartans' next possession and in the scramble for loose ball Mills committed a walk.
The Yellowjackets then broke the Spartans' press and Yordan Reyes found Paxton Franklin in the lane for a layup to make it 54-50. Mills cut the lead to 54-52 on a layup by Alex Daigle with 18 seconds to go but Anthony Gonzalez (14 points) made two free throws to push the lead back to four and after Daigle (24 points) finally missed on a drive, Franklin made one of two from the line to cap the scoring.
"We could have given up when they tied it but we didn't," Douglass said. "We found something inside us."
What they found was that they have a playe that can take over a game and who is really only scratching the surface as a go-to player. A good rebounder and role player the last couple seasons, Sarmiento is going to be a tough matchup for just about every team in the BL.
Athletic, long and quick, Sarmiento will be one of the tallest players on the floor most nights in the league and he does have the ability to score in the paint. He can also face up and drive and he added a couple of 3-pointers Monday night as well.
"Over the last few years that he has been playing we have had players like Austin and Robert and last season we had Robert and Luis Cordova," Douglass said. "This is the first season we have asked him to take on a different role. He's matured a lot and you can see when he wants the ball he's a force. He has come a long way."
Like in the final minute when he stopped Mills' run wih the big jumper and block.
"Once it was tied and we had the ball I knew I was going to take that shot," Sarmiento said. "I didn't want to let my team down."
He didn't and now the Yellowjackets appear primed to contend for a BL title. Tests remain, two with Terryville, a rematch with Mills in February and the annual battles of Winsted with Northwestern. Throw in out of league games with defending Class S champion Granby and an improved Torrington squad and the Yellowjackets still have challenges ahead of them, but they are confident they will be ready for them.
"I feel good about where we are and I like to help my team win," Sarmiento said. "We came out and played hard tonight played tough. We just have to come out and do that every game."