Buscetto's school-record 48 points leads Waterford boys to a win over Ledyard

Waterford's Mikey Buscetto (5) goes up for a shot against Ledyard's A.J. Genova (15) during a basketball game at Ledyard High School in this January 2017 file photo.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Waterford's Mikey Buscetto (5) goes up for a shot against Ledyard's A.J. Genova (15) during a basketball game at Ledyard High School in this January 2017 file photo. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Middletown — When last they met, the “X,” otherwise known as the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse at Waterford High School, was sold out. That was in the league championship game, accompanied by the requisite rattle and hum.

All of which made Thursday night’s renewal feel a bit odd. Imagine: Waterford vs. Ledyard, a game some locals believe will be for the Eastern Connecticut Conference title again in a few months, played out in a gym 40 miles away, the finals of the Art Kohs Holiday Invitational title at Xavier.

And yet to echo a line his dad once used after a game at Quinnipiac, Mikey Buscetto was as comfortable there as in his own living room.

There were times Thursday that if Buscetto were on fire to any greater degree, he’d have to stop, drop and roll, following his school-record 48 points. He helped Waterford to an 84-64 win over Ledyard, its first win over the Colonels since Feb. 3, 2012, which would go on to be Waterford’s state championship season.

Buscetto, who broke former Waterford great Rick Murallo’s single-game scoring record of 46 points, also set the school record for most made 3-pointers in a game (12). He finished 17-for-24 from the field overall.

“We wanted to make a statement tonight and what better statement than to beat the team that beat us in the championship game last year in front of 2,000 people?” Buscetto said. “The basket looked like it was the size of a swimming pool.”

For a while, it looked as though Waterford would need all 48 points, too. The Lancers (5-0) fell behind 25-11 after the first period.

“We started turning the ball over and Mikey started making everything,” Ledyard coach Dave Cornish said. “As a competitor, you don’t like to see anyone score that many points on you. But as someone who admires and respects him, I’m happy for him in that sense.”

Waterford coach Bill Bassett called it “one of the greatest shooting performances I’ve ever seen. When he gets dialed in like that, what do you take away? He’s unstoppable.”

Bassett was quick to spread the nice words among Buscetto’s teammates, too. Omar Rahman, who joined Buscetto (the MVP) on the all-tournament team, finished with 14 points, Liam Spellman had 13 rebounds and Eric Pinch played textbook defense.

“Eric was great on defense,” Bassett said. “He gets overlooked. But he’s all over everything. That’s a good win for us. Ledyard has great players. We told our big guys that Trevor Hutchins is the best big man they’ll play against all year.”

Ken Turner and Devin Rickerson had 12 points apiece for Ledyard (3-1) and Hutchins had 10. Hutchins and Rickerson made the all-tournament team.

The teams meet again in Waterford in late January. Cornish expects to have rugged forward Julio Nieves back by then.

Meantime, the rest of the league must find ways to stop Buscetto and the Lancers, who have won all five games by at least 20.

“Give credit to Ledyard,” Buscetto said. “They got up 25-11 and it’s not easy to come back against a team like that.”

m.dimauro@theday.com

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