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Surprising East Lyme boys beat Ledyard and improve to 5-1

Ledyard — If high school basketball can sometimes feel as though it has degenerated into more fire drill than well-drilled, here comes East Lyme to offer some hope.

The Vikings, 6-14 a year ago, paid homage to the concepts of discipline, teamwork and effort Tuesday night, remaining atop the South Division of the Eastern Connecticut Conference (tied with Fitch) following a 56-34 boys' basketball win over Ledyard at Standish Gym.

"There are no great superstars on this team," senior Marshall Gada said, after perhaps disproving his point with another north-of-20-point scoring effort ( 21). "We all have to contribute."

In any way possible. East Lyme outscored Ledyard 35-16 in the second half and won for the fourth straight time.

"I love coaching this team," East Lyme coach Jeff Bernardi said. "I think this is the best defensive team I've ever had at East Lyme. And that's high praise."

Matt Valakos added 12 points for the Vikings, who even earned some praise from the opposing coach.

"It's the little things we're not doing," Ledyard coach Dave Cornish said of his team, who fell to 1-5. "Rebounding with two hands, boxing out, taking charges. I bet East Lyme took three or four charges tonight. It's the little things that win games, the little things that don't show up in the newspaper the next day.

"East Lyme did them."

Lebron Maurice led the Colonels with 10. Ledyard trailed 21-18 at halftime and cut it to 25-24 early in the third. East Lyme used a 19-4 run from there.

"Our JV team was undefeated last year — and that was against Notre Dame of West Haven, Glastonbury and NFA," Bernardi said. "We had a lot of injuries (to the varsity) last year and it gave the JV kids some valuable varsity experience."

Six different players scored for the Vikings, who have quite the opportunity awaiting them Thursday: a chance to move two games in front of their blood rivals. They'll play host to Waterford, which lost its second game Tuesday.

"Not much separates team one through team six in this league right now," Bernardi said. "We told the kids before the game not to even pay attention to Ledyard's record. They're a dangerous team. No complacency for us. We've got Waterford on Thursday."

m.dimauro@theday.com



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