GHS sophomore David Smith looks to drive against Waterford on Dec. 27 at Xavier High School. Smith would lead the team with 22 points at the Guardians defeated Waterford in the opening game of the Artie Kohs Basketball Classic at Xavier High School.
After winning only four games a season ago, the boys’ basketball team at Glastonbury High School has already matched that win total through the first month of the 2022-2023 season.
On Dec. 27, the Guardians improved to 4-0 with a 61-48 victory over Waterford at the Artie Kohs Basketball Classic at Xavier High School.
Sophomore Davis Smith scored a game-high 22 points and senior point guard Adam Molusis added 14 points and eight assists as the Guardians pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points over the final eight minutes.
GHS head coach Jim Vaughan was impressed with how his team responded after four days without playing or practicing because of the holiday weekend.
“We worked off some rust,” said Vaughan, whose team jumped out to a 10-4 lead within the first four minutes. “Our effort was good. I don’t think our execution was great, but the effort was there.”
Molusis ignited the offensive, draining four three-pointers in the first half with his fourth bucket from beyond the arc giving the Guardians an 18-12 advantage early in the second quarter.
After the Lancers reeled off eight straight points to take their only lead of the game at 20-18, Smith quickly put the Guardians back in front when he drove to his right and converted a layup while being fouled. Smith's ensuing free throw gave the Guardians a lead they would not relinquish.
Smith hit a three-pointer on the following possession and had a nifty dish to Connor O’Leary in the closing seconds of the second quarter as Glastonbury ended the half on a 13-2 run.
O’Leary, who missed all of last season with an injury, finished the night with 13 points.
Molusis said the return of O’Leary and the emergence of Smith have allowed him to play more of a traditional point guard role.
“I’m able to facilitate more this year, it’s great,” added Molusis, a three-year starter. “We have a lot of weapons this year. If we move the ball well, we can score and be dangerous.”
After the Guardians were held to only nine points in the third quarter, O’Leary took over in the fourth by scoring nine points by himself in the final frame.
Junior Andrew Burns also made a big impact in the second half, scoring all 10 of his points in the final two quarters.
Smith put the finishing touch on the win when he wowed the crowd by throwing down a dunk in transition, providing Glastonbury a nine-point advantage with under two minutes to play in the game.
After injuries and inconsistency hampered the team last season, Vaughan said having a full rotation of players is the key to this winter.
Vaughan was able to rotate in eight players in the first quarter in the win over Waterford.
“We’re hard to guard when we play the right way. We have three guys on the perimeter that can score,” added Vaughan.
“We’re hard to match up with. It’s just a matter of doing the right things, which we did at times tonight.”
The win advanced the Guardians to the finals where they played the host Falcons of Xavier the following night.
Glastonbury led throughout and held a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter before Xavier rallied late by forcing a handful of turnovers and getting timely scoring from seniors Anthony Parker and Aiden Driscoll. Parker led all scorers with 23.
This season’s tournament marked the 19th year of the Artie Kohs Classic, named after the school’s longtime athletic director and basketball coach, who passed away in March of 2022.
Current Xavier head coach Mike Kohs, who is the son of Art Kohs, was moved by the team winning the tourney this year, saying, “This means a ton to me to win this tournament in the year my father passed.”
“Tonight was without question one of the most special wins I’ve had in my coaching career,” added Kohs. “I’m so proud of my team and my coaching staff.”
O’Leary paced GHS with 17 and Smith added 14 points as the team fell to 4-1.
Despite the loss, the arrow is pointing up for the Guardians.
They started the season with a 67-56 victory over Hall as O’Leary (25) and Smith (24) combined to score 49 points on Dec. 16.
Three days later, they beat Plainville 82-59 with 11 players breaking into the scoring column.
The Guardian needed to rally to register their third win, falling behind 15-4 after the first quarter before storming back to defeat Farmington 52-48 on Dec. 22. O’Leary led the comeback by scoring 11 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Vaughan said he would like to see the team play with more composure and finish games stronger, but believes the team has the tools to be successful and praised Molusis for being a seasoned court general that will lead the Guardians up-tempo approach this winter.
Molusis believes the team is just starting to reach their potential, adding, “We should just get better and better the more games we have together.”
Next up is a home date with Maloney, this Friday, Jan. 6. The game tips off at GHS at 6:45 p.m.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin