The Day's All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year: Waterford's Mikey Buscetto
Such stories are often mythical, nothing more than rhetorically useful to underscore the enormity of the accomplishment. But this has been happening inside elementary school gymnasiums and playgrounds throughout Waterford for a while now:
“I’m watching the kids play basketball one day,” said Great Neck Elementary paraprofessional Ellen Bellos, “and one of them says, ‘I wanna be Mikey!’ and then tries to do one of his moves.”
Other teachers and administrators have related similar stories.
They all want to be Mikey.
Good reason. Because few other high school basketball players in the region ever parlayed charisma and achievement in a single season better than Mikey Buscetto, the masterful maestro of Waterford High School and The Day’s 2018 All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
Buscetto earned the award last year as well.
Buscetto ended his senior year with an exclamation point, leading the Lancers to their second basketball state championship in seven years. He became the first player since the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference began keeping records to earn double figures in points (27) and assists (10) in the state championship game, lifting Waterford to a 90-67 win over Avon.
It punctuated a memorable season of team and individual accomplishment for Buscetto, whose team won the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II title, ECC tournament championship for the first time and the state Division III title. The Lancers did so playing in front of more than 1,000 fans seven different times, including three sellouts at the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse and more than 4,000 in the state championship game at Mohegan Sun.
Buscetto became the program’s career scoring leader, leaving with 1,459 points. He eclipsed Sam Cheung’s mark of 1,404 in the final home game of the season, a win over Southington in the state quarterfinals. He also set the career assists record, graduating with 681.
Buscetto was named to the Connecticut High School Coaches' Association all-state team, the GameTimeCT all-state team that featured the state’s top 12 players and was named to play in the state’s oldest high school all-star game, the Bridgeport Jewish Community Center’s Schoolboy Classic, against a team from New Jersey with players set to attend Ohio State, Villanova and Seton Hall.
“A once-in-a-lifetime player,” Waterford coach Bill Bassett said of his point guard.
Bassett removed Buscetto from the championship game with a few seconds remaining. Buscetto threw his arms around Bassett and the two shared a long, tearful embrace. In Buscetto’s final home game, Bassett, wearing a shirt and tie, was rebounding for Buscetto about a half-hour before the game began.
“I knew this would be his last time on this court,” Bassett said. “Something about it felt special to me.”
Buscetto, who made high honors during the season, will attend Division II Southern New Hampshire University and play basketball.
“This year was a dream come true,” Buscetto said. “I could talk about individual stuff, but what means the most to me is being able to win a championship in town with my friends. It was a special time and a special year and none of us are ever going to forget it.”
Buscetto mulled leaving Waterford for prep school in the offseason. But he knew that with several seniors returning — Walker Sutman, Eric Pinch, Max Mazzella, Tyler Peretz and Trevor Yeomans — as well as the addition of senior Omar Rahman, the Lancers would have a chance to win Division III.
"None of us will ever get to play with anyone like Mikey again,” Sutman said after the championship game. “Just an unbelievable player and a better teammate.”
Buscetto earned accolades throughout the conference and state, including kind words from Northwest Catholic coach John Mirabello and St. Thomas More coach Jere Quinn, among others.
“Mikey Buscetto,” said Mirabello, who has won multiple state titles, “is the real deal.”
The Day's 2018 All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year
Player of the Year - Mikey Buscetto (Waterford)
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Luke Leonard (East Lyme)
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Aidan Miller (NFA)
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