Ledyard is moving on

Jackson Donahue of Stonington, right, saves a ball from going out of bounds as Khary Childs of Ledyard (5) looks on during the second half of Wednesday's game in the CIAC Class M boys' basketball state tournament.
Jackson Donahue of Stonington, right, saves a ball from going out of bounds as Khary Childs of Ledyard (5) looks on during the second half of Wednesday's game in the CIAC Class M boys' basketball state tournament. Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo

Ledyard - It is not the most comforting pregame thought, the challenge of guarding the guy who can, in Khary Childs' words, "pull up from anywhere on the floor."

And yet that was Childs' assignment Wednesday night in Ledyard High School's second-round state tournament game: chase Stonington junior Jackson Donahue to everywhere short of the men's room.

Childs made Donahue sweat for all of his 16 points, leading his team to a 74-52 victory and a berth in the Class M quarterfinals for the second straight season.

Ledyard, the tournament's No. 4 seed, plays No. 5 Valley Regional, the Shoreline Conference champion, at Standish Gym Friday at 7 p.m.

Childs scored 19 points and Phyllip Thomas had 17 for Ledyard (21-3).

"Donahue is a great player," Ledyard coach Dave Cornish said. "We tried to take him out as much as we could. You can't hold him down, but you can try to contain him a little bit."

Cornish said his team needed to regain its swagger, still smarting from a loss to Hartford Public late in the regular season. It didn't look particularly promising late in the first half with the Colonels clinging to a 22-19 lead.

But that's where Ledyard used a 10-0 run in the final 1:40 of the half to take a 32-19 lead.

"We put a little pressure on them," Cornish said. "We were afraid to go to our fullcourt pressure because we didn't want to lose sight of Donahue and give him a look at a three. But we figured we'd try it and see how they handled it."

Stonington (13-11) didn't handle it well.

Plus, Childs said his team rediscovered a better way to play offense.

"We started passing the ball. We call it 'sharing the sugar,'" Childs said. "We're a lot better when we pass and ball and not worry about one guy, but get everyone involved."

The Bears trailed by as many as 16 in the third period until Divante White's layup got his team within 10. But Thomas Whipple made a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to increase the lead to 13.

Whipple, Ledyard's leading scorer, didn't score until 3:27 remained in the third period. He finished with 11 points.

Darnay Gray, Ledyard's second-leading scorer, finished with five points. He didn't start the second half.

"Darnay is huge for us," Cornish said. "He has to get his mind right and buy into what we're trying to do here."

Tim Ferraro had 14 points for the Bears and White finished with 10.

Now the biggest challenge of the season awaits for Ledyard. Valley reached the Class M quarters last season and lost to eventual champion Waterford.

"We've seen (Valley) a couple of times. They're very tough and disciplined," Cornish said. "But they're here and I don't know how many teams in the Shoreline pressure them. I don't know how much they see it. Hopefully, we can turn them over a little bit."

m.dimauro@theday.com

River Thomas of Ledyard (1) goes in for a layup as Tim Ferraro of Stonington (10) defends during the second half of Wednesday's CIAC Class M boys' basketball tournament game. No. 4 Ledyard advanced with a 74-52 victory.
River Thomas of Ledyard (1) goes in for a layup as Tim Ferraro of Stonington (10) defends during the second half of Wednesday's CIAC Class M boys' basketball tournament game. No. 4 Ledyard advanced with a 74-52 victory. Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo
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