Wamogo reamins unbeaten after impressive win of Classical Magnet in a battle of top seeds.
LITCHFIELD-Outside it was frigid with a hard winter wind blowing. But inside the Wamogo Regional High School gymnasium it was raining threes as the unbeaten Warriors used the long ball to score an impressive, 77-63, over previously undefeated Classical Magnet School of Hartford Saturday afternoon.
Wamogo, which improved to 18-0 on the season, scored 52 points in the second half and had 13 three-pointers that allowed the home club to race out to a double-figure lead in the third period and build their advantage to 63-48 halfway through the final period. Classical Magnet fell to 15-1.
One person who wasn’t surprised by his team’s shooting prowess was Warriors’ head coach Gregg Hunt.
“We are a great shooting team. We’re shooting around 55 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free throw line. I thought what was very big for us was that despite not paying well in the first half, the first quarter especially, was when we went into the locker room ahead by two points.”
The lead at intermission may just well have relaxed the home team, which began the contest tight and scored only four points and one basket in the first period.
“It was a big game; two unbeaten teams, the gym was packed, and I think that got to us a little at the start,” said senior captain Garrett Sattazahn, who had a remarkable game. He scored 33 points, canned five of those monstrous three-pointers, and handled the ball with precision against relentless pressure from the quick Gladiators. “We were playing way too fast and once we started to calm down, we started getting better shots.”
Junior Ethan Collins had 19 points, including four three-pointers for Wamogo.
With the win, Berkshire League regular season champ Wamogo will retain its top spot in the state Class III tournament rankings. Classical came in atop the North Central Connecticut Conference and ranked second in Class IV.
Interestingly, Wamogo also handled the Gladiators, 82-65, when the teams met last year, which helped inspire the Warriors to a run to the state Class V state championship game appearance where they lost to Cromwell. Saturday’s matinee victory was also seen by Sattazahn as a message of sorts.
“I think we can play with anybody in our division. Yes, it was kind of a statement game to the rest of the teams. I think everybody knows we can play some basketball at Wamogo.”
Hunt said his team is not fazed by playing top level teams out of conference.
“We play in the Waterbury league during the summer and the kids go up against some very good schools that play top level basketball. We don’t want to let this win go to our head though. Our goal is to go undefeated and I don’t know if there ever has been an undefeated boys’ basketball team at Wamogo. That means we need to finish out the regular season and win the Berkshire League Tournament prior to states. If we lose in the BL Tournament it will leave a bad taste in our mouths going into the state tournament.”
Saturday’s final score seemed a bit remarkable if one was to reflect back upon the end of the first quarter, which saw the visitors leading, 8-4.
Wamogo began to find its offensive rhythm in the second quarter. When senior Reid Turtoro banged in a three-pointer with a minute left the Warriors took a 25-23 lead that they would carry into the locker room.
Wamogo canned four treys in the third period and slowly built its lead, which reached double digits, 44-34, when Sattazahn tossed in a bomb with a minute and a half left in the period.
A layup by senior Sean Coffey (11 points) off a brilliant pass from Turtoro at the 6:40 mark of the fourth period pushed the Wamogo lead to 13, with the Warriors’ largest lead coming with 4:50 left when Zattazahn’s three-pointer made it 63-48.
Despite a Herculean effort from senior Robert Simmons (17 fourth period points and 34 in all) and the visitors’ harassing defense, the Warriors lead was never less than nine points in the fourth.
Classical was forced to send the Warriors to the free throw line where they proved to be as good as from long distance. Wamogo was a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe during the last minute and a half, with Sattazahn making all eight of his chances, three of them one-and-ones with the pressure firmly on him.
Without a doubt, the Warriors would like to go one step further than they did last year in the state tournament. With their skilled shooting, both from the field as well as the free throw line, ball handling ability, solid defense and a veteran coach who has his charges primed for a big run, no one is betting against Wamogo being there at the end cutting down the nets.
Classical Magnet (15-1)
Tyreese Jones, 1-2-4; Traimell Frank 1-2-4; Taj Russell 0-0-0; Matt Rivera 2-2-8; Joshua Smith 1-0-2; Jarred Griffin 0-0-0; Jahmal Morgan 2-1-5; Robert Simmons 11-7-34; Justin Olier 3-0-6. Totals: 21-20-63.
Sean Coffey 3-3-9; Reid Turtoro 4-0-11; Ethan Collins 7-1-19; Ben Roy; 0-0-0; Matt Mazzarelli 0-0-0; Garrett Sattazahn 9-10-37; Eric Odenwaelder 1-0-3; Jasper Brodhead 1-0-2. Totals: 25-14-77.
3-pt. goals: Classical-7 (Simmons 5, Rivera 2). Wamogo-13 (Sattazahn 5, Collins 4, Turtoro 3, Odenwaelder 1).