Resilient Cowboys hang on to edge Wamogo
Wamogo's Garrett Sattazahn is fouled with 6.4 seconds left to play during Thursday's game at Litchfield. With Wamogo trailing 46-45, Sattazahn missed both free throws and Litchfield held on for the win. John McKenna photos
A Litchfield team that has struggled with consistency and confidence all season got a huge lift Thursday when it edged Wamogo, 46-45, and avenged an embarassing loss to the Warriors in January.
Wamogo's Garrett Sattazahn, usually a reliable free-throw shooter missed two shots from the line with 6.4 seconds left and, after Litchfield's Jared Guilmart missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2.1 seconds left, a desperation heave by Ethan Collins grazed the front rim to set off a Cowboy celebration.
"A huge win over a very good team," Litchfield coach Dan Goscinski said. "We pride ourselves on being a tough team and tonight we were. The first time we played (Wamogo), we were outhustled and weren't tough enough. Our kids remembered that."
The Cowboys evened their record at 8-8 and have qualified for the state tournament. Goscinski has overseen a major reversal from a poor 2016-17 season.
"Everyone has bought in to what we're trying to do this year," Goscinski said. "Our unselfishness is our biggest asset and you saw it in the way we played tonight."
Wamogo coach Gregg Hunt, gracious in defeat, praised the Cowboys and their coach.
"You can't take anything away from Litchfield," Hunt said. "They made the clutch shots when they had to. (Goscinski) has done a phenomenal job of getting his kids to play together."
Wamogo is 11-4, with all of the losses being close ones. Rematches against the three other teams that got the best of the Warriors this season - Shepaug, Lewis Mills and Northwestern - loom.
Litchfield survived despite doing its best to give the game away after building a 46-35 lead on two baskets by Matt Schweter, the latter coming with 3:41 left. The Cowboys then tried to run time off the clock, a strategy that led to a turnover and 10 straight points by Wamogo.
Sattazahn scored on a drive and nailed a three-point field goal with 40 seconds left to cap the surge and make it a one-point game. Litchfield's Tom Brady was fouled with 11 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one to give Wamogo a shot at the win. Sattazahn grabbed the rebound, drove the length of the court and was fouled with 6.4 seconds left.
The first free throw from Sattazahn was halfway down before rattling out. His second toss was a repeat and ended up in the hands of Guilmart with 2.1 seconds left. Another reliable free-throw shooter, Guilmart missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Collins time to grab a rebound, take a couple of dribbles and launch a shot from beyond half court. The shot nicked the front of the rim and Goscinski and his players, not to mention the exuberant Litchfield crowd, breathed a sigh of relief.
"This is the most memorable win for me since I've been here," Guilmart said.
Guilmart scored nine points and did an outstanding job guarding the indefatigable Sattazahn, the leading scorer in the Berkshire League. With Guilmart stuck to him like glue and facing a double team nearly every time he touched the ball, Sattazahn was held to two points in the first half and 14 for the game.
"The focus was to face guard him and try not let him get the ball," Guilmart said. "He's a good player and he's going to score, but I think we did a good job of slowing him down."
Guilmart's performance was "unbelievable," according to Goscinski.
"Garrett's the best player in the league and you can only keep him down for so long," Goscinski said.
Hunt blamed a lack of offensive execution for Sattazahn's scoring woes.
"It's easy to defend a guy if no one is setting screens for him," Hunt said.
A determined Sattazahn came out shooting in the second half and with seven quick points helped Wamogo, which trailed 26-20 at halftime, get on track. Reid Turtoro's hoop tied the score at 31 and Turtoro's pull-up jumper gave Wamogo a 33-31 lead. But that's when Litchfield delivered what Hunt called the "back breaker."
It came in the form of consecutive three-point field goals by Ryan Murphy that put the Cowboys up 39-35 after three quarters. Wamogo would never regain the lead.
Schweter also came up big for the Cowboys with 16 points, using his size to outmuscle the Warriors inside. Guilmart added nine points and Murphy seven. Ethan Collins, picking up the scoring slack, netted 20 points to pace Wamogo.
Litchfield's Matt Schweter and teammates celebrate their win.
Defended by Ethan Collins, Matt Schweter goes up for a shot.
Sean Coffey snatches a rebound for the Warriors.
Tripp Melk is shadowed by Jasper Brodhead.
Garrett Sattazahn shoots between Jared Guilmart, left, and Austin Marino.
Tom Brady drives into the teeth of the Wamogo defense.
Wamogo's Reid Turtoro had his hands full trying to guard Glenn Doyle.
Matt Schweter encounters resistance from Garrett Sattazahn on his way to the hoop.
Litchfield's Ryan Murphy gets set to secure a rebound in front of Sean Coffey.
Matt Schweter shoots over Sean Coffey.
Reid Turtoro fires away.
Wamogo's Eric Odenwaelder makes a hustling play along the baseline.
Wamogo's Ethan Collins reaches for the ball over Jared Guilmart.
Garrett Sattazahn launches one at the buzzer ending the third quarter.
Matt Schweter grabs a rebound in front of Garrett Sattazahn.
Ethan Collins and Glenn Doyle hit the floor when the ball came loose.
The Litchfield High chorus sings the national anthem.