Whalers dominate boards in 76-67 win over No. 9 Waterford

New London's Elijah Martinez (30) and Richard Henry (11) celebrate after the Whalers defeated No. 9 Waterford 76-67 on Tuesday night at Conway Gym in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
New London's Elijah Martinez (30) and Richard Henry (11) celebrate after the Whalers defeated No. 9 Waterford 76-67 on Tuesday night at Conway Gym in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

New London — This was the night that Waterford High School learned — painfully — that "death by chocolate" isn't merely a dessert recipe.

That's because the kid his Whaler teammates affectionately call "Chocolate," otherwise known as senior forward Isiah Benson, tortured the Lancers anywhere near the basket Tuesday night.

Benson's 20 points and 17 rebounds helped resurgent New London High School take down No. 9 Waterford 76-67 at Conway Gym.

Benson's 17 rebounds were part of the 50-rebound night overall for the Whalers — 27 offensive rebounds included — that left New London coach Craig Parker using the word "astounding" and Waterford's Bill Bassett perhaps opting for saltier prose.

"Fifty rebounds," Bassett said. "Fifty. You're not winning anything that way. The fact that we only lost by nine is amazing. We should have lost by 25. Twenty-seven offensive rebounds? I know that rebounding takes some skill and strategy. But it's 90 percent heart. New London wanted it way, way more than we did. It was clear."

And to think that Benson was the lone post player the Whalers used most of the night.

"They have some big guys," Benson said of Waterford. "But I wanted to do what I could to help my team."

Benson's work around the basket complemented guard Elijah Martinez, who led the Whalers with 23 points. Martinez has 53 points in his last two games for the Whalers (9-2) who have won eight of their last nine.

"I don't know how you get 50 rebounds, honestly," Parker said. "We thought (Benson) would be a force for us before the season began. He came on late last season. He's very skilled around the basket."

The Whalers also chased Waterford guard Mikey Buscetto to everywhere but the restroom. Buscetto earned all of his team-high 17 points.

"We did a good job on Mikey. But the next time we play him, you never know," Parker said. "Gio (Lopez, who guarded Buscetto much of the night) was just saying how hard it is to chase him around."

Edwardo Gonzalez also had 19 points for New London.

The Whalers led by 12 in the third period before Waterford (9-2) got within three. New London led by as many as 14 late before a late run got the Lancers, who have lost two of their last three, within six.

One bright spot for Waterford: Junior guard J.J. Brennan's 13 points. Brennan had 11 points Saturday at Stonington as well.

"J.J. brings us an element we lack. He's a very good outside shooter. He's been playing very well," Bassett said. "He's a good complement to Mikey."

Trevor Yeomans had 12 points for the Lancers, who were undefeated a week ago at this time. Now they're struggling for answers, while the Whalers are rolling.

Waterford plays host to Ledyard Friday night in a game to be streamed live on theday.com

m.dimauro@theday.com

New London's Isiah Benson (00) blocks a shot attempt by Waterford's Max Mazzella (23) during the Whalers' 76-67 win on Tuesday night at Conway Gym. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
New London's Isiah Benson (00) blocks a shot attempt by Waterford's Max Mazzella (23) during the Whalers' 76-67 win on Tuesday night at Conway Gym. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
New London's Gio Lopez drives past Waterford's Trevor Yeomans during the Whalers' 76-67 win over the No. 9 Lancers on Tuesday night at Conway Gym.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
New London's Gio Lopez drives past Waterford's Trevor Yeomans during the Whalers' 76-67 win over the No. 9 Lancers on Tuesday night at Conway Gym. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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