(Jimmy Sullivan slams home two of his team-high 12 points)
It’s safe to say that there’s no love loss between the athletic programs at Wethersfield and Glastonbury.
The bitter rivals took center stage in the Division II boys’ basketball quarterfinals last Monday night and the visiting Tomahawks came away with a rugged 62-54 victory inside an energized and full house at WHS.
Glastonbury used a 14-2 run, which started late in the third quarter and extended until early into the fourth, to build a 15-point lead before holding off a late charge by the Eagles.
“In a game like this against a well-coached team you can’t make many mistakes and tonight we did,” said Wethersfield head coach Brian Fanelli, “Defensively at times we weren’t in the right position and we would rotate late. That was part of our problem. The other problem was that we couldn’t make a basket for about a five minute stretch.”
With the game deadlocked at 22 at half, Glastonbury’s Freddie Thomas came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the third quarter. The junior went on his own 7-0 run early in the quarter and connected on five shots from beyond the arc in the game.
Thomas and fellow junior Jonathan Shae each scored 19 for the Tomahawks, who also defeated the Eagles in their lone regular season matchup, 67-56, back on Feb 10.
Senior Jimmy Sullivan led the Eagles with 12 points, ten coming over the first two quarters. He ignited a 6-2 run late in the first half with an emphatic slam dunk, which temporarily energized the home crowd.
Mike Mozzicato and Connor Pace each chipped in with 11 points in the loss.
It was the final game at Wethersfield for Mozzicato, who wrapped up his high school career with his most productive season to date. His skillset and size will translate well to the collegiate ranks.
Pace is a sophomore, who excels in the paint both offensively and defensively, and will be a force to reckon with over the next couple of seasons.
“He’s probably one of the smartest kids on the team. He takes a concept and picks it up in about ten seconds and then he applies it,” Fanelli said of Pace, “He’s a pretty special kid.”
Trailing 50-35 early in the fourth, Fanelli utilized a full court press on defense and the team made one last surge to save their season. The Eagles forced a handful of turnover, reeling off 19 of the next 26 points to narrow the gap to three with just over a minute left in regulation.
“We were trying to change the tempo and create some turnovers and it did exactly what we wanted it to do. We didn’t have the legs to do it the whole game, but we thought it was a good time to do it and it actually got us back in the game,” said the veteran coach.
Junior Derek Tenney was an all-around dynamo during the late rally, scoring eight of his ten points, including a perfect six of six from the foul line.
“He does a good job at times taking over and he does the little things,” Fanelli said of Tenney, “He attacked the basket and he played tough defense on their best player.”
Ultimately the comeback fell short once the Eagles were forced to foul and the Tomahawks made five of six free throws to seal the game.
It ended a season which saw the Eagles win 16 of 20 regular season games, earning them a bye in the first round of the tournament before downing Bridgeport Central 68-64 in round two.
Glastonbury’s win advanced them to the semifinals where they were eliminated by Immaculate, who went on to win the Division II state championship, defeating Amity 56-34 last Saturday at Mohegan.
Next winter Tenney and Pace will head another solid Eagles team led by Fanelli, but the coach has been mentoring the current group of seniors since middle school and said the group will be missed.
“They got our first division title, which we’ve never done before and they made it to the quarterfinals for a home game. It was right there, they couldn’t have asked for any better.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin