East Hampton freshman Brady Lynch is swarmed by multiple Cromwell defenders during the Bellringers Shoreline conference semifinal loss to the Panthers on March 1.
East Hampton boys’ basketball gave top-seed Cromwell everything they could handle in the Shoreline Conference (SLC) semifinals before falling to the Panthers 63-43 at Cromwell High School on March 1.
“Their defensive pressure hurt us throughout the game,” East Hampton’s first-year head coach John Antolini said. “We came out flat and we missed a lot of shots. We missed a lot of shots that we normally make.”
Early in the second quarter J.J. Feehan hit a floater, giving Cromwell a 21-10 lead before East Hampton responded with a 14-3 run.
Behind the spectacular play of freshman point guard Brady Lynch, who scored 10 points during the run, the Bellringers narrowed the margin to 25-24 after scoring eight straight points spanning the end of the first half into the early stages of the third.
Cromwell’s senior captain Gianluca Albert ignited a 16-point run, which bled over into the fourth quarter. Albert, who was named the Shoreline Conference Player of the Year, finished with a game-high 21.
Antolini said the team lost their composure at times during the game, particularly during the crucial run, adding, “We rushed our offense which created a lot of misses. I give their defense a lot of credit for that. We just didn’t step up tonight.”
It was Bellringers third loss to the Panthers this winter, also falling in the two regular season games—Dec. 28 and Feb. 7—against their conference rivals.
“We were very stagnant tonight,” added Antolini. “We need to come out and be ready to play tonight in these types of games and we weren’t ready tonight.”
Lynch led the team with 16 points, while Drew DiStefano added nine in the loss.
Antolini said it took Lynch a few games to assume a leadership role but he’s matured as the season has aged and has a great chemistry with older brother, Jye Lynch, who is a senior
The Bellringers made the semifinals after upsetting Hale Ray in the first round of the SLC. They were coming off a 12-8 regular season in which they won four of their final six games to qualify for the postseason tournaments.
DiStefano made the All-SLC second team and Jye Lynch made the honorable mention team.
“We’ve had a lot of success and we’ve won some really big games. We’ve competed in every single game,” Antolini said of his team as a whole. “We haven't given up and we have heart in every single game. We are a real physical team, which has had an impact every single night”
Antolini, who spent the previous decade coaching basketball at Sports & Medical Science Academy (SMSA) in Hartford, wrapped up is first season at EHHS on Tuesday when the Bellringers fell to Windsor Locks in the first round of the Division V state tournament on March 8.
It was the final game for seven seniors: Jye Lynch, Ethan Palma, Connor Michalowski, Jack Watkins, Brady Battit, Miller Koziel, and Jack Blakey.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin