It's been a while: Stonington boys' hoop beats New London

New London — Zach Scott has a pretty good memory about Stonington's recent boys' basketball history with nemesis New London.

It hasn’t been pretty for the Bears.

"My first year, we almost had them," said Scott, a Stonington senior. "We were up by one at the half and then we lost that one (54-38). The second year, I think we lost by 55 (he was close — 105-58). I think it was the ECC tournament (correct). That was a rough one. Last year was definitely a tough one (a 69-63 loss)."

The Bears finally got one over on the Whalers on Monday afternoon at Conway Gymnasium, a place that’s been a house of horrors for both them and the rest of the Eastern Connecticut Conference. They had four players score in double figures and pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 64-53 victory.

“It’s a big win,” Scott said. “It feels nice.”

Stonington (5-6) snapped a three-game losing streak and had lost four of its last five. It's not what was expected of the Bears played for the ECC Division II title last season and advanced to the CIAC Division IV quarterfinals.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit together,” Scott said. “There’s been ups-and-downs. We’ve been struggling to finish the game. We’ve been coming out hot in the first half, then the third quarter is usually the killer for us and we come out slow, and teams start to come back, and then we just have to crawl out of our hole that we dug.”

First-year Stonington head coach Jay Wosencroft said, “We stop scoring for five, six minute stretches and it’s hurt us, especially against Fitch (a 62-51 loss on Jan. 16).”

That wasn’t the case for the Bears on Monday as they scored the game’s first seven points and led the rest of the way. They led by as much as 27-13 early in the second quarter.

“Today was definitely a different story,” Scott said. “(It was) just a steady, constant battle. We just kept it together and played together.”

Senior Ayden Morrison had 16 points and five rebounds, senior JJ McKenna and Scott each made three 3-pointers and scored 15, and junior Anthony Fry had 10 points and six assists.

Sophomore Tayeshawn Cunningham-Pemberton scored a game-high 22 points for New London (4-6) and classmate Sean Raymond scored 11.

“We’ve just been up-and-down,” Whalers head coach Craig Parker said. “(The) time sequence that this game turned on us was probably the first four minutes of the game.”

Sophomore Rhodia Perry made a 3-pointer to cut New London’s deficit to 51-47 with over 6 minutes left in the game. The Whalers never got any closer.

“Stonington just came in and they outworked us,” Parker said. “Talent-wise, I don’t see much of a difference. I think they just outworked us.”

n.griffen@theday.com

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