Glastonbury boys basketball didn’t close out the regular season like they wanted, losing to 55-41 to Simsbury on Feb. 21 at GHS.
Three nights later, the Guardians (14-6) rebounded with a Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) win over Lewis Mills (45-37) before losing in the second round to Platt the following night. They now turn their attention to the Division II state tournament, which starts next week.
In the regular season finale loss to the Trojans of Simsbury, the Guardians had trouble putting the ball in the bucket from the onset, making only two of 10 shots in the first quarter and struggling from the foul line for a second straight game.
Head coach Jim Vaughan said he was “disappointed” in the team’s effort, adding “we just weren’t ready to play.”
Sophomore David Smith canned a three-pointer, providing the Guardians an early 3-0 lead, but Simsbury responded with a 13-2 run to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Smith scored a game-high 19 points, with ten coming in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans' well-balanced attack was too much for the Guardians to overcome.
Nine Simsbury players scored in the win, with senior Chris Kokines leading the way with 15 points.
The visiting Trojans ballooned the lead to as many as 23 points in the second half as Vaughan tried everything he could to provide a spark, including replacing his entire starting five for a brief period in the third quarter.
The Guardians whittled the deficit down to a dozen, but the struggles from the foul line were too much to overcome.
“Give [Simsbury] credit, but I felt like we were all on different pages tonight and I don’t know why,” added Vaughan.
Following a six-game winning streak, Glastonbury dropped their final two regular season games, losing to Norwich Free Academy on the road two nights before the loss to Simsbury.
Foul shooting was the team’s Achilles’s heal in the losses, combining to shoot 11 of 33 (33%) from the charity stripe.
The team has also had to overcome the loss of senior point guard Adam Molusis, who will miss the rest of the season.
In the CCC tournament win over Lewis Mills, junior Andrew Burns led the way with 15 points, 11 coming in the second half as the Guardians outscored the visiting Spartans 28-19 over the final 16 minutes.
The state tournament starts on Monday, March 6 and the Guardians are slated to host a first round game.
Vaughan said the team will need to have more “positive energy” and play with “max effort” in order to make waves in the tournament.
Visit ciacsports.com for a complete list of state tournament schedules and results.
***Vaughan Reflects on 300 Wins***
On Feb. 14, Vaughan picked up his 300th career win in a 55-42 victory over E.O. Smith in Storrs.
When Vaughan walked into the locker room after the victory, the team mobbed the longtime coach as a huge roar and dance erupted.
Vaughan danced with his team for a few seconds before acknowledging and thanking the team, but went right back to business.
“I don’t want to make this about me,” said Vaughan, who immediately started planning for the final few games of the regular season.
Vaughan’s journey to 300 wins started in Middletown where he played high school basketball before graduating in 1989.
He continued his basketball journey at Albright College in Pennsylvania where he planned to pursue a career in corporate America following his graduation.
“I wanted to chase the money for a while and go into business and finance,” stated Vaughan. “But shortly before graduating college I knew that wasn't for me and this was the path [teaching and coaching] I wanted to take.”
Shortly after college graduation, Vaughan made his way to GHS where he became a history and social studies teacher, along with coaching the junior varsity basketball team.
In his first year coaching at GHS in 1995, he filled in for varsity head coach Ed Quick for a game and picked up his varsity win.
Quick resigned at the beginning of the 2000 season and Vaughan was named interim coach before being named the official head coach.
23 years later, he’s amassed 300 wins on the local courts.
During his tenure he has had only four losing seasons and has never had back-to-back losing seasons.
In 2008, he earned his 100th victory with a 48-43 win at Bloomfield and his 200th win came in 2015 with a convincing (81-
55) victory over Manchester.
He has made the state tournament 19 times and has led his teams to three Final Fours, with two of the team’s three semifinal losses coming to teams that would go on to win a state championship.
Over 20 of his players have gone on to play in college.
Vaughan said that he had a lot of great players and some great teams, but all players and teams mean the same to him.
He added that several of his former players have reached since he won his 300th victory.
“Hearing from a lot of them over the past week has been really special.” stated Vaughan. “I'm also proud of the fact that many of our programs’ players have gone into coaching. Justin Morris is a head high school girls coach in Maryland. John Pinone Jr. was head boys coach at RHAM. Chris Canino and Ryan Cook we're on his staff. John Karas was an assistant college coach for a while. And of course, Charles (Sims) and Bill (Eller).”
Steve Netcoh also got the coaching bug while under Coach Vaughan.
During his illustrious career at GHS, Vaughan has also met the love of his life. This July he will celebrate 20 years with his wife, Carey, an English teacher. They have three children; son Jay and daughters Kaylee and Julia.
Special thanks to Rick Carnelli for contributing the details of Vaughan’s journey to 300 wins.
Jim Vaughan, the longtime boys basketball coach at GHS, won his 300th career game on Feb. 14. Vaughan is pictured at the recognition ceremony held at Glastonbury High School on Feb. 17. Photo: Glastonbury Sports Photography.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin