The Day's All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year: NFA's Marcus Outlow
His story is told through the dagger, which has become television-speak for the killer 3-point shot late in the game. This much we know about the dagger: They require considerable levels of swagger, those daggers, to take them, let alone make them.
But then this is Marcus Outlow. No shortage of swagger. Maybe that's what happens when you enter basketball season knowing you've already got a football scholarship to Boston College. You let it fly.
And Outlow made them all. Or at least that's how it felt. Not bad for a football guy.
The football guy who led upstart Norwich Free Academy to the Eastern Connecticut Conference boys' basketball championship.
"It's hard to put into words what Marcus meant to us," first-year varsity coach Chris Guisti - "Coach Juice" to his players - said of Outlow, The Day's 2014 Boys' Basketball Player of the Year.
Outlow averaged 17.6 points per game with 62 3-pointers, some more memorable than others.
Jan. 14 vs. Bacon Academy: Game tied, closing seconds. Guisti calls timeout, sets up the play. Turns out all he had to say was "inbound it to Marcus." Outlow didn't get too far over halfcourt before he let it fly. Good. Celebratory pile.
March 1 vs. Waterford, conference tournament quarterfinals: Game tied, closing seconds. On the line, a trip to the semifinals at Waterford. Big game for the Lancers, too. Tick ... tick ... tick ... Outlow gets the ball. Good. Again. Celebratory pile.
March 7 vs. Woodstock, conference tournament championship game: Full house. Waterford High. First three baskets, Outlow 3. Outlow 3. Outlow 3. NFA 9, Woodstock 0. Woodstock never led. Soon thereafter, there was Guisti leaping off the ladder after the final snip of the net into the arms of his players.
Another Marcus Outlow Production.
"All my life," Outlow said, "I've been very confident taking shots like that. I have a sweet spot on the right side of the floor."
Outlow and the Wildcats had a perfectly good season going into March, although few observers of local basketball pegged them to win the league title. Too much Ledyard, New London and Woodstock in the way.
But NFA won eight straight, all the way into the state tournament, taking out Ledyard and Woodstock along the way. A title in Guisti's first season.
"Marcus was great all season," Guisti said. "He had a long season in terms of the amount of punishment his body had to endure, starting with football in August."
Outlow fought some nagging injuries during a football season that didn't meet expectations. It ended with a thud in the state playoffs. Who knew basketball would come to the rescue?
Outlow called it "a total team effort."
But it launched with Outlow's launch.
"Marcus wants that shot and he's not afraid to take it," Guisti said. "It's something he worked to improve. He came in as a scorer that drove to the basket, a slasher, and he evolved into a jump shooter and extended his range. When a player is playing with confidence, the moment doesn't become too big for them."
The Day's 2014 All-Area Boys' Basketball Team
Player of the Year: Marcus Outlow (NFA)
DeAnte Bruton (Ledyard)
Donny Craig (Waterford)
Darnay Gray (Ledyard)
Collin Sawyer (New London)
Phyllip Thomas (Ledyard)
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