Shelton holds off Wamogo in Division III tournament
Garrett Sattazahn, right, and Sean Coffey leave the Wamogo court for the final time following Thursday's 69-60 loss to Shelton in the second round of the Division III state tournament. Below, Reid Turtoro, another senior, drives to the basket in the loss. John McKenna photos
By John McKenna
A season that will be remembered for years to come as one of the best in Wamogo boys’ basketball history ended prematurely in the Division III state tournament on Thursday.
Coach Gregg Hunt’s unbeaten club once again gave everything it had in hosting Shelton in a second-round game, but it wasn’t enough as the Gaels had an answer for everything Wamogo threw at them and pulled away late for a 69-60 victory.
“We played well, but they played better,” Hunt said of a Shelton team that under the old state tournament format would have played at the Class LL level, far above Wamogo in Class S. “Every time we tied it or got up by one, they’d come back and get a basket. It had to have been one of their best games of the season.”
With Shelton leading 60-58 just inside the two-minute mark, Wamogo had a chance to take a lead when Reid Turtoro lined up a three-point field goal attempt from the corner in front of his team’s bench. Had the shot fallen, the spirited Wamogo faithful might have blown the roof off the gym.
Turtoro’s shot, however, was too long. Shelton got the rebound and answered with a lay up to take a four-point lead. The Gaels made seven of eight free throws the rest of the way to seal the win.
The Warriors, the Berkshire League’s regular-season and postseason tournament champions, finished 23-1. It was the final game for Turtoro and fellow senior stars Garrett Sattazahn and Sean Coffey, a trio that contributed immediately as freshmen.
“They worked their tails off and we’re definitely going to miss them,” Hunt, who completed his 23rd season on the Wamogo bench, said. “Garrett Sattazahn is one of the most skilled players to come through here and Reid and Sean both had a great four years for us.”
With Sattazahn, Turtoro and Coffey, and junior Ethan Collins leading the way the last three seasons, Wamogo was 66-10. The Warriors were the Division V tournament runners up last year.
Shelton, which improved to 13-10, was, as expected, the toughest team Wamogo would face to date. The Gaels bent at times under pressure but the Warriors were never able to break them the way they did to just about every opponent this winter.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and that we would have to grind it out, but we just didn’t get it done,” Sattazahn, who scored 25 points, said. “I don’t think our defense was there tonight like it usually was.”
Hunt and his staff saw Shelton play three times before the tournament and had plenty of time to prepare their team.
“They really only play five guys, so we thought our pressure and running game would play to our advantage,” Hunt said. “We could have been more patient with the ball, but credit their defense for making us rush. They played with much more defensive intensity than what we had seen.”
Shelton’s 6-foot-6 center Melvin Kelenovic hurt the Warriors with 19 points, many coming on easy lay ups on passes from teammates who were overplayed on drives to the bucket.
“We didn’t get enough weak-side help, and that allowed their big kid to have a big game,” Hunt said.
After falling behind 9-2 at the outset and trailing 17-11 after one quarter, the Warriors went toe to toe with the Gaels and finally took their first lead, 32-31, on a Sattazahn drive late in the second quarter. Kelenovic scored just before halftime to put his team up 33-32 at the break.
Wamogo stayed close in the third quarter until Shelton opened some space with a nine-point run to take a 47-42 lead at the close of the quarter.
Things got really interesting early in the fourth quarter as the Warriors fought back with the first five points to tie the score and then took a 50-49 lead on a three-point field goal by Collins (22 points). Resilient Shelton regained the lead before Sattazahn’s two-pointer tied the game for the final time at 54-54. From there, the Gaels dug deep and held off the Warriors.
“They made the plays when they had to and they made their free throws,” Hunt said. “We just didn’t make enough shots, but still this was a very winnable game.”
Although disappointed to see the season end in the first tournament game, Hunt said he couldn’t be any more proud of his club.
“No one can take anything away from what this team accomplished,” the coach said.
Looking ahead to next season, Wamogo will have to replace its three seniors but has the makings of a strong team with Collins coming back to assume the leadership role and join Sattazahn and Turtoro as 1,000-point scorers. Starter Eric Odenwaelder will be back for his senior season as will key reserves Matt Mazzarelli, Ben Roy and Cole Higgins.
Coach Gregg Hunt protests a call that didn't go his team's way late in the game.
Eric Odenwaelder makes a strong move to the basket.
Sean Coffey (3) wrestles the ball away from Shelton's Melvin Kolenovic.
Ethan Collins takes aim from the perimeter.
Sean Coffey, left, and Ethan Collins defend a drive by Brian Berritto.
Reid Turtoro lets one fly.
Garrett Sattazahn drives against Kevin Belden.
Reid Turtoro lofts a shot over Melvin Kolenovic.
Garrett Sattazahn is hacked on the way to the basket.
Ben Roy defends against the dribble.
Ethan Collins drives against Melvin Kolenovic.
Matt Mazzarelli gets a shot off against Melvin Kolenovic.
Eric Odenwaelder takes it to the hoop as Melvin Kolenovic defends.
Ethan Collns drives baseline as Peri Basimakopoulus defends.
Garrett Sattazahn sails in for two points.
Ethan Collins launches a shot as Wamogo tries to rally late.
Garrett Sattazahn looks to split a pair of defenders.
Garrett Sattzahn takes the final shot of his Wamogo career.
Reid Turtoro leads the Warriors onto the court before the game.
Above, Reid Turtoro, left, and Garrett Sattazahn wait to be introduced before the game. Below, coach Gregg Hunt provides final instructions. Diane Blick photos