Warriors stifle Cowboys to claim Berkshire League title
Wamogo's Garrett Sattazahn gets past Litchfield's Tripp Melk for a layup during Wamogo's win on Thursday. John McKenna photos
The first outright Berkshire League championship since 1973 didn't come easy for unbeaten Wamogo on Thursday as a game Litchfield club gave the Warriors a go in the second meeting of the season between the rivals.
Litchfield led 14-11 after one quarter and was down 25-19 at halftime before Wamogo's superior talent wore the Cowboys down in producing a 59-38 win.
Wamogo, which unveiled its new black road uniforms, is 17-0 with three games left in the regular season, including Saturday's home affair against unbeaten Classical Magnet of Hartford. It has the makings of a dandy at the House that Jim Eisenhaure Built, what with Wamogo ranked first in the CIAC's Division III and Classical holding the top ranking in Division IV.
"We want to be tested and that's why we scheduled the game," Wamogo coach Gregg Hunt said of Classical, a team Wamogo defeated in Hartford last year. "They are well-coached and athletic and I'm expecting another great game."
Litchfield, which lost its fourth straight to fall to 8-9, primed Wamogo for Classical by giving the Warriors a battle. Coach Dan Goscinski's club came out shooting and made it clear it was far more prepared to play than it was in the first game against Wamogo, a lopsided loss.
Led by the smooth shooting of Jared Guilmart and Tom Brady, the Cowboys built a 14-7 lead before settling for a 14-11 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Things stayed intimate through the second quarter before Wamogo closed with an 8-2 run that broke a 17-17 tie and put the Warriors up 25-19 at the break. Garrett Sattazahn's bucket just before the buzzer capped the surge and gave the high-scoring senior guard 17 points for the half.
The Cowboys kept the game close by slowing the pace of the game and limiting turnovers, something they were unable to do in the first game against Wamogo. Down six, Goscinski liked his team's chances.
"We were in a position to give ourselves a chance to win the game," Goscinski said. "The first game, we were down 25, or whatever it was, and were out of it, so I'm proud of the first half we played."
In the second half, however, Wamogo put its foot down and took charge with a 15-9 third quarter that left the Warriors with a comfortable 40-28 lead. Sattazahn continued his scoring surge and finished with 33 points despite a concerted effort by Litchfield to slow him down.
"Garrett is a tough matchup and has been a great player for four years," Goscinski said. "The bigger the stage, the better he seems to play."
Sattazahn didn't rest on the defensive end, either, as he worked hard to hold Litchfield's high-scoring Tripp Melk to six points. Melk's only field goal came in the third quarter.
"Garrett did a good job on a player who has been scoring a lot of points," Hunt said.
For Litchfield to have had a shot at winning, Goscinski noted, it needed a big game from Melk.
"Obviusly we need him to be involved," Goscinski said. "You have to tip your hat to Wamogo, because they made it a tough night for him."
Hunt also praised the defense of Reid Turtoro, who harassed Litchfield point guard Tom Brady all night. Brady finished with 14 points but was kept in check by Turtoro in the decisive second half.
Sattazahn and Brady were the only double-figure scorers. Ethan Collins had eight for Wamogo and Guilmart had eight for the Cowboys.
Despite the loss, Goscinski remains optimistic that his club can right itself, beginning with Tuesday's game against Thomaston.
"We have time to turn it around and play better," he said.
Litchfield's Tom Brady looks to pass out of the double team of Reid Turtoro, left, and Sean Coffey.
Reid Turtoro takes it to the hoop against Evan Fischthal, who was called for a foul on the play.
Evan Fischthal shoots over Cole Higgins.
Sean Coffey works to get a shot off over Tripp Melk.
Tripp Melk meets resistance from Jack King on the way to the basket.
Garrett Sattazahn shoots over Jared Guilmart.
Eric Odenwaelder gets a hand on a shot by Jared Guilmart.
Sean Coffey drives on Evan Fischthal.
Tripp Melk gets a step on Sean Coffey, left, and Garrett Sattazahn.