The 7th grade Glastonbury boys travel basketball team celebrates after finishing an undefeated season on March 5. Picture (front row) from left; L.J. Bigliazzi, Jesse Carabase, Matt Roby, Noah Young, Aiden Patel; (back Row) assistant coach Justin DeLisa, assistant coach Brendan Ristaino, Jake DeLisa, head coach Dee Patel, Noah Wallace, Teddy Ristaino. (Hidden in back row) Dacio Nigam / (not pictured) Armaan Garbera.
The 7th grade Glastonbury boys travel basketball team, a part of the Glastonbury Basketball Association (GBA), completed an undefeated season by winning the North Central Connecticut Conference (NCC) 7th grade championship, polishing off a
19-0 season with a 35-26 victory over Simsbury in the title game on March 5.
It ended a remarkable run for the local squad featuring 10 players who hadn’t played together prior to the season.
Head coach Dee Patel said it took a few games for the team to find their footing, but once they did he knew they had something special brewing.
“It takes a lot of time to get that cohesiveness with a team, but by the third or fourth game it just clicked,” recalled Patel.
“They were a group of boys that were really selfless and they all had the same goal of wanting to win basketball games.”
And winning they did—convincingly.
16 of the 19 wins were by 10 or more points and they outscored the opposition by a total of 352 points (18.5 points per game).
With each passing victory, the visions of an undefeated season became clearer.
Patel said the players were very much aware of the undefeated season, yet remained focused on the next opponent.
“What we talked about in our overall discussion was that no one puts more pressure on us than we do,” added Patel, who sensed a more confident group as the season aged.
“Over time they started to develop that relationship and they started to know where each other were on the floor and they made that extra pass,” he added. “They all knew their roles. No one tried to go beyond the scope of what we were trying to do and that made them super special.”
The culmination was the championship victory over Simsbury.
Both teams displayed stout defensives, but ultimately Glastonbury’s teamwork and tenacity prevailed, with all 10 players contributing to the win.
Shooting guard Aiden Patel led the team with 10 points and center Teddy Ristaino had his best game of the season, scoring six points and hauling down several rebounds.
Armaan Garbera continued to demonstrate his athleticism on both sides of the ball, leading the defensive charge by holding Simsbury’s primary scorer in check and causing multiple turnovers throughout the game, and Jesse Carabase also starred on the defensive end.
Guards L.J. Bigliazzi, Matthew Roby, and Dacio Nigam kept a high tempo, while big men Jake DeLisa, Noah Young, and Noah Wallace countered the oversized front-court of Simsbury.
Aiden Patel and Garbera were the leaders of the court, being named team captains midway through the season for their contributions.
“A lot of what they did on the floor, it was never about scoring points. It was about how they find that right player on the floor, how do I make a difference on defense,” Dee Patel said of his captains. “They did all those little things that go unnoticed.”
Dee Patel, who coached the team with assistants Justin DeLisa and Brendan Ristaino said the undefeated championship run is something he will not forget.
“They were a very special group of boys,” said the proud coach. “I can’t stop smiling when I think about it. It was such an incredible journey.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin