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Article Published February 20, 2021

Hand Boys’ Hoops Beats East Haven, Loses Close One to Hillhouse

By By Dean Bibens

The Hand boys’ basketball team is striving to steadily improve on the court in pursuit of a successful season this winter. The Tigers have been competitive in every game they’ve played thus far as Head Coach Jimmy Economopoulos’s squad is 2-2 to start the year with both losses coming by three points or less.

Hand took a 42-39 loss at Lyman Hall in its season opener on Feb. 10 and then bounced back with a 43-42 home victory versus Guilford on Feb. 12. In last week’s matchups, the Tigers claimed a 52-38 road win over East Haven on Feb. 16 and then lost a close contest at Hillhouse by a 35-34 score on Feb. 20.

Junior Tyler Favre scored 17 points for the Tigers in their win against East Haven. Freshman Kyle Hoffman netted 12 points in the victory, while senior captain Nick Donofrio added 10 points on the night. Coach Economopoulos also complimented the performances of senior captain Scott Testori and fellow seniors Chris Porte and Jason Wallack in the contest.

“Our two wins were really all-around team efforts. It was great to see three different players score in double figures in the East Haven game, including Tyler Favre, Nick Donofrio, and Kyle Hoffman,” Economopoulos said. “But there were guys like Chris Porte, Jason Wallack, and Scott Testori that had great defensive efforts that don’t necessarily appear in the box score.”

Favre posted a double-double by scoring 13 points to go with 10 rebounds in the Hillhouse game. Porte had five points, six boards, and four steals for Hand in the one-point loss.

Despite the defeat, Economopoulos saw some positive signs in his team’s overall play on the week. The coach noted the Tigers’ excellent defensive effort against East Haven as a high point.

“It was a hard-fought game. We just fell short,” said Economopoulos of the Hillhouse loss. “In our game against East Haven, our defense set the tone. We only allowed 38 points, and I thought we did a great job of making East Haven earn what they got. East Haven has some talented scorers and, for the most part, we held them in check. We also knocked down some shots, which gave us a lead to play with for most of the game.”

Even though Hand has been turning in solid efforts early on, Coach Economopoulos still wants to see the Tigers put together a complete game for all four quarters as the campaign progresses.

“Overall, we still have a long way to go. We didn’t perform up to our standards in the first game, and it led to a loss,” Economopoulos said. “Against Guilford, we were lucky to come out with a W after falling behind late in that game. I think the East Haven game was our most complete performance so far, but we need to continue to improve on both ends of the floor.”

Hand’s upcoming schedule includes games versus Hamden, Xavier, and Sheehan—all of which Coach Economopoulos considers strong opponents. The Tigers’ coach expects this stretch of contests to serve as a valuable learning experience for his club.

“My expectations going forward is that we continue to improve from practice to practice and game to game,” said Economopoulos. “We have a tough week ahead, and we will learn a lot about ourselves over this stretch of games.”

In addition to winning and improving, Coach Economopoulos values the health of his team and knows that the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing to take lightly. The Hand boys’ ice hockey team recently saw its season put on pause due to COVID exposure, and Economopoulos knows that the same thing could happen to his squad at any moment.

“It is honestly scary. As hard as we prepare and work during practice, it always looms in the back of your head that this could be shut down at any minute due to an exposure,” Economopoulos said. “I just hope for my players’ sake, especially our seniors, that we can all stay healthy and avoid any quarantines. I see the situation with our hockey team that has faced two separate quarantines that were completely out of their control, and I just feel bad for the coaches and the kids. I know how much goes into it, and it’s tough to see.”