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NFA boys top Fitch in OT; Wildcats' coach Guisti says he will retire after the season

Groton — And on the day Chris Guisti announced his retirement as the coach of the Norwich Free Academy boys' basketball program, he was reminded all over again why this can be so much fun.

Guisti, who will leave the end of the year after 21 seasons in the program, took his undermanned Wildcats into undefeated Fitch and left with a 41-32 victory in overtime.

NFA (3-2) played without leading scorer Jared Martin, who was not with the team. Guisti did not elaborate as to why.

"Gritty. Tough," Guisti said. "I told the kids I didn't care what the final score of this game was, I wanted all the viewers on to know who the tougher team is."

At the end of the first quarter, Guisti said during an in-game interview that his strategy was to "play his offensive line" in this game. It turned out an offensive lineman — senior Joe Klick who will be playing college football — keyed the win.

Klick scored a career-high 13 points.

"We've been practicing with intensity," Klick said. "The last three games we came out flat. We pushed ourselves this week."

Klick made two free throws with 20 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 32. NFA held Fitch (4-1) scoreless in overtime.

"Their size and their strength were the difference," Fitch coach Charles Sylvan said. "We've been seeing zones for four years. Different names, different faces, same results. Whether it's those big, long kids Waterford had in past years or these NFA kids, these zones are really disruptive for us."

Yaniel Hernandez led Fitch with nine points.

"We've just got to continue to build their confidence," Sylvan said. "We have a very young team. Nothing was decided tonight."

Guisti was Neal Curland's assistant for 13 years before becoming head coach in 2014. He's led the Wildcats to a pair of Eastern Connecticut Conference Tournament titles.

And if the Wildcats keep playing like this, a third could certainly happen in 2021.

"It wasn't pretty," he said. "I feel like we should give some coupons to some of the viewers. I can't say enough. I've never been prouder of a team's effort."

NFA plays Waterford at home Tuesday.

"I'm just going to try and enjoy the rest of it," Guisti said. "It's a blessing we're even playing.''



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