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    Sunday, March 26, 2023

    Griswold uses fourth quarter blitz to put away Suffield

    Griswold High School’s Jacob Strain, left, and Jeff Souvenance, middle, go after a rebound against Suffield’s Nick Sattan (12) and Nick Van Cott (4) during a Division IV state tournament boys’ basketball game Thursday. Griswold won 65-45 to advance to the quarterfinals. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Griswold’s Michael Strain, middle, and Suffield’s Jack Loos, left, fight for a rebound during the Division IV state tournament boys’ basketball game Thursday at Griswold. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Griswold’s Lucas Strain, left, goes up for a shot against Suffield’s Nick Sattan during Thursday’s state tournament boys’ basketball game. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Griswold’s Christian Russell, left, goes up for shot with Suffield’s Donovan Koukal-Kollie (11) following the action during the Division IV boys’ basketball game Thursday. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Griswold — The Griswold boys’ basketball team calls it “blitz,” its 1-3-1 defensive trap package they threw at Suffield during the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s CIAC Division IV second-round game.

    It’s an apropos term because blitz is what the fourth-seeded Wolverines did once they applied it against Suffield. Their defensive pressure turned what had been a close game after three quarters into a 65-45 rout.

    “Our defensive trapping, making plays on defense, leads to our offense in transition,” Griswold senior Lucas Strain said. “That’s where we score most of our points is being all over the place, working as a team (and) covering each other’s backs. We get the steal, and we just move the ball.”

    The Wolverines (21-3) will host No. 5 Weaver in Monday’s quarterfinals at 7 p.m. The Beavers beat No. 12 Cheney Tech 65-50 in their second-round game.

    Griswold had four players score in double figures — Jacob Strain (14 points), Evan Merchant (13 points, three blocks, three steals), Jeff Souvenance (10 points, seven rebounds) and Lucas Strain (10 points, six assists, two steals).

    “Jacob showed up offensively,” Wolverines head coach Rob Mileski said. “Evan showed up offensively, Jeff, in the second half, those guys just made plays. That’s it. And they’re seniors.”

    Michael Coggins scored 18 for Suffield (14-8).

    Griswold’s offense went stagnant to start the second half. It went 4 minutes, 33 seconds without a point and fell behind 32-29.

    The Wolverines answered with a 7-1 run with Jacob Strain’s 3 putting them ahead for good off an offensive rebound and assist from Tommy Mattson.

    Griswold was just getting warmed up. It opened the fourth quarter with an 18-5 run to go ahead 54-38 with 3:52 remaining.

    “I have to give credit to my assistant, Josh Adamec,” Mileski said. “He made a great call going to that 1-3-1 trap. It turned the game.

    “I’m not a genius but if you trap two on the ball, someone’s open, but (Suffield) didn’t have anything for it and we turned them over and got some layups and it changed the momentum. It just got us going.”

    Jacob Strain and Merchant had two of Griswold’s six steals that quarter.

    It helps the Wolverines, too, that they have three cross country runners on the team in the Strain triplets, Jacob, Lucas and Michael who can just go-go-go.

    “It’s contagious what they do, what they’re able to do,” Mileski said. “For 32 minutes, they can just go. They’re never gasping for air.

    “Jacob tonight did everything. Jacob hit a 3, scored on a backdoor (cut), defended, rebounded. You know. It was a great team win, do not get me wrong. Every guy that we played we needed.”


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