Weaver ends Lewis Mills' run in Class M semifinals
NEW BRITAIN - Weaver has some unfinished business to take care of at Mohegan Sun and it wasn't about to let Lewis Mills derail its plans.
The 12th seeded Beavers came out and put on a shooting clinic in the first quarter, raced out to a big lead and never looked back in an 89-33 victory over the top-seeded Spartans in a Class M semifinal matchup Wednesday night at New Britain High.
KeAndre Fair scored 20 points while Josh Jones and Mike Medlin both added 19 for the Beavers, who are headed back to Mohegan Sun for the second straight season. Weaver lost the Class S title game last season to Granby in double OT after blowing a 21-point lead.
To avenge that loss the Beavers first had to complete their "Run to the Sun" and they did it by raining in threes throughout the first quarter. Weaver hit seven 3-pointers in the opening eight minutes and led 31-6.
"That was the best shooting we have had in a first quarter all season," Weaver coach Reggie Hatchett said. "We had to sit a couple starters because they were late to school and it moved a couple of our shooters, our zone busters into the starting lineup. It worked out well because they came out in a zone and we shot the ball extremely well."
Medlin canned three from the arc in the first quarter while Fair and Jones added a pair each. While Mills got open shots and just couldn't knock them down, Weaver got shots and just didn't miss.
Lost in the shooting display was the fact that Mills actually did a lot of what it set out to do. The Spartans got some good looks and did not turn the ball over against Weavers press.
"We talked to about seven coaches from teams that played Weaver, coaches that beat them and lost to them and they all said you have to handle the press," Lewis Mills coach Todd Kozak said. "We did a good job against the pressure, that wasn't the problem. We started out cold and they made a ton of threes."
All that was essentially left to decide after the first quarter was the final score. Mills played hard and never quit and went out the way they have played all season, giving an all-out effort all over the floor.
"We didn't play scared," Kozak said. "We didn't play as well as we can in our half-court defense and didn't close out on some of the shooters as well as we could have, but we didn't play scared. When you have three guys hitting threes its hard to get out to everyone."
Alexander Daigle led Lewis Mills with 15 points and Spencer Maloney added 10. Their effort, along with fellow seniors Dan Kryzanski, Max Wadington and Dan Wilcox helped the Spartans to a 20-5 record this season.
Mills ran into a buzzsaw Wednesday night in Weaver, a team that won the CCC Tournament and the CCC is a league that has three teams headed to Mohegan Sun. So while the end of a season is never fun unless it ends in a title, the Spartans still have plenty to be proud of.
Over the three previous seasons Mills was 21-41 with a single tournament win. This season alone the Spartans won 20 games and the program took steps forward on a number of fronts.
"We changed the culture around the program," Kozak said. "It has been three years in the making, but to go from six wins in each of the last two seasons to 20 this year is a great accomplishment.
"We have a great student section, that's something that has been a big plus for us, and we have set the tone for where we want to be as a program and how we have to work to get there."
Kozak is excited about the future and said he sees at least a five to six year window where the program will be able to compete with anyone in the BL. He credits this season's senior class for setting the tone.
"When I took the job I saw that there was a pretty good sophomore class," he said. "They have turned out to be a great senior class, great leaders. We had our best off season yet, playing AAU ball, lifting, working hard. These seniors have set the bar high for the classes coming behind them and our young guys have a lot to live up to."