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    Friday, October 07, 2022

    Stonington, Windham win ECC Division II boys' hoop semifinal games

    Plainfield — Somehow, someway, Stonington boys’ basketball coach Jay Wosencraft has avoided adding any gray hair this season.

    The Bears long ago accepted the fact that little is going to come easy for them this season .... and it sure didn’t on Saturday. Senior catalyst Dorian White missed over 13 minutes of an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II semifinal while suffering two different injuries.

    Stonington also had to play through second-half foul trouble by seniors Sam Montalto and Nate Cyr.

    The top-seeded Bears once again fought their way through trouble, though, and held off a late run by No. 5 Killingly for a 56-51 win at Plainfield High School.

    “It’s been us all year,” Wosencraft said. “We talked about it before the game — we find ways to win. We grind.”

    The Bears (18-3) are on a 14-game winning streak. Eight of those wins were by six points or less.

    “This team has been rock-solid all year,” Wosencraft said. “It’s fun to watch them kind of go through it but tonight I really didn’t appreciate the close game. But they worked their butts off. That’s what they do. They work.”

    Stonington will play second-seeded Windham in Tuesday's final at Mohegan Sun Arena (6 p.m.).

    The Whippets (16-6) used a relentless second-half press during the first semifinal to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 75-48 rout over No. 6 Griswold, the third time they beat the Wolverines this month.

    The Bears, the ECC Division III regular-season champion, beat Windham twice during the regular season (77-40 on opening night and 75-73 on Jan. 27).

    Montalto had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for Stonington on Saturday and classmate Cam Hinchey scored 16 points. Senior Wynn Hammond added eight points, five rebounds and five assists.

    Junior Yianni Baribeau scored a game-high 33 points with six rebounds for Killingly (12-10).

    The Bears led 11-8 when White (five points, four assists) was cut over his right eye with 7 minutes, 15 seconds left in the second quarter and missed the rest of the half.

    Undaunted, Stonington extended its lead to 26-16 at halftime. Hinchey made two 3-pointers during a 15-8 run and Hammond and Montalto both scored four.

    “(White) is probably our best scorer so it’s tough to play without him,” Hammond said. “He gets to the rim with ease. If he wants to score, he’s going to score. So when Dorian is out, we have to find other ways to score. We’ve got to move the ball and get other guys shots.”

    The game got even dicier for the Bears in the third quarter when Cyr picked up his third and fourth fouls and went to the bench with 5:34 left in the quarter.

    Montalto subbed out after picking up his third foul with 17.1 seconds left in the third.

    Junior reserve Luke Lowry (eight points) made a pull-up jumper and two free throws to give Stonington a 43-33 lead with 7:08 remaining.

    White rolled his ankle with 6:01 left and didn’t return.

    Baribeau kept Killingly in the game as he scored 15 in the fourth. His third 3-pointer of the quarter cut the Bears’ lead to 54-51 with 13.8 seconds left.

    Lowry made two free throws with 7.1 seconds remaining to ice the game.

    “We’re more than a one-person team,” Wosencroft said. “Tonight, we showed our depth.

    “I’m proud of the way these guys scrapped and played.”

    In the opener, Windham forced eight turnovers in the third quarter to outscore Griswold 23-8.

    “Foot speed,” Griswold head coach Rob Mileski said about the Whippets' defense. “(They’re) suffocating. Oh, my God, that’s it.

    “It’s a different level of quickness than you can simulate in practice.”

    Junior Travis Mangual Jr. (24 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) had five of his eight steals in the third quarter for the Whippets. They had seven steals as a team that quarter to go ahead, 52-37.

    Isiah Alexis Mangual added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Windham.

    Junior Michael Strain had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Griswold (10-12) while classmate Evan Merchant scored 19 points. Junior Lucas Strain added four steals.

    n.griffen@theday.com

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