Old Lyme boys headed to first CIAC basketball title game
Meriden — Other players and other programs might have taken the occasion to celebrate, pile on each other and pose for photos. There's one first for this kind of thing: the first state championship appearance in program history.
The basketball players of No. 3 Old Lyme High School?
Not so much.
Their accomplishment Wednesday night, a 69-53 victory over second-seeded Somers earning them their first trip to the state championship game in school history, was met with a rousing, "yeah, but."
"It feels great and all, but we're not settling for anything short of a state championship," junior Aedan Using said. "Obviously, you first have to make it to the state championship game, but this means nothing to us."
Using and the Wildcats meet top-seeded (and school of choice) Innovation of New Britain in the CIAC Division V title game Sunday morning at 10:30 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Innovation held off Old Lyme's Shoreline Conference rival Valley Regional 42-38 in Wednesday's other semifinal.
The Wildcats (21-5) are the third team from the region to make the finals at nearby Mohegan this year, joining the Waterford boys (Div. II title game Sunday at 6 p.m.) and the New London girls (Class LL title game Saturday at 3 p.m.)
Ray Doll, who led the Wildcats with 24 points, explained his team's hunger.
"We got to the Shoreline championship game and lost," Doll said, alluding to a tough defeat vs. Cromwell last month. "We want to get greedy a little bit."
Doll's ability to aggressively take the ball to the basket keyed a 14-0 run in the second quarter that gave Old Lyme the lead for good.
"We have spurtability," Old Lyme coach Kirk Kaczor said. "I thought Ray had an outstanding game. He took the ball to the basket and didn't turn it over against their guards, who are really good."
Using added 23 for Old Lyme and Brady Sheffield had 11.
Sheffield's 3-pointer with six minutes left gave the Wildcats a 53-39 lead. This was after Somers (18-6) used a 7-0 run to cut an 18-point deficit to 11. Somers guard Derek Hostetler made a 55-footer at the buzzer to end the third period, giving the Spartans some hope.
Somers didn't get closer than 11.
Old Lyme last advanced as far as the semifinals in 2013.
"This is pretty special for all of us," Kaczor said. "The kids have wanted this all year. But we're not satisfied with just getting there."
Stories that may interest you
Marci Glenney, who led the NFA girls' basketball team to its first two state championships in program history in 1996 and 1997, will be inducted Wednesday into the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Nobody in (or out) of the Eastern Connecticut Conference could guard Waterford's JJ Brennan, evidenced by his near 25 points per game average this season. Brennan was named The Day's 2019 All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year.