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Junior captain Riley Lawson netted 20 points when the Old Saybrook boys’ basketball team earned a 55-45 victory versus Coginchaug on Feb. 23. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Ryan Stratton and the Rams are making strides in their first full campaign with Chris Perras as the team’s head coach. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Ben Yost is scoring 7.5 points per game for Old Saybrook this winter, while also taking freshman post player Auggie Albert under his wing. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Chris Perras has been instilling mental toughness in his athletes during his first full season as head coach of the Old Saybrook boys’ basketball team. And he’s starting to see the results of that effort show up on the court.
The Rams put their mental fortitude to the test during their most recent stretch of games. Old Saybrook lost two of its three games last week, but the positive in it all was that the Rams earned a 10-point victory versus Coginchaug on Feb. 23, marking the team’s second win of the year.
Old Saybrook claimed a 55-45 road win over Coginchaug in the middle matchup of last week’s three-game slate. The Rams grabbed a 16-6 lead in the first quarter and were up 31-21 at halftime. The Blue Devils outscored Old Saybrook 13-8 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 39-34 entering the fourth, but the Rams won final frame by a 16-11 margin to walk away with the victory.
Junior captain Riley Lawson scored 20 points for Old Saybrook in the contest. Sophomore Ryan Stratton scored eight points, senior Ben Yost had seven points, senior Owen Tolve scored six points, and sophomore Aaron Tolve added six points to help Coach Perras’s club prevail.
“You have to take the good with the bad,” said Perras. “Riley was great in our win against Coginchaug, and we look at what we did well in that game to improve for our upcoming contests.”
Unfortunately for Old Saybrook, the team’s next game resulted in a 76-29 home loss against Morgan on Feb. 25. Coach Perras is using that setback as a way to motivate his players going forward.
“The last two practices, I’ve left that score on the board for the kids to look at,” Perras said. “And it’s not to embarrass them in any way. It’s to serve as a reminder that we need to play better if we want to compete with the best teams in our conference.”
Perras said the Rams responded well to Morgan loss by coming out with energy during their subsequent practices. The coach appreciates the job that Yost and Lawson are doing while leading that charge as the team’s captains. Lawson is averaging 13 points per game, while Yost is scoring an average of 7.5 points per contest.
Another key contributor for Old Saybrook is freshman Auggie Albert, who plays both center and forward. Albert is averaging 4.4 points per game and provides a key presence down low alongside Yost.
“Auggie is absolutely in the driver’s seat with how much he is learning from Ben right now,” said Perras. “The great thing about those two is they get along so well. You would think for a freshman and a senior, it might be a little difficult for them to click. But they’ve been connecting on all cylinders.”
Albert scored 12 points when Old Saybrook took a 44-39 home loss to Old Lyme in its first game of the week on Feb. 22. In the Morgan game, Yost scored eight points, and Lawson had six points for the Rams.
Old Saybrook is sporting a record of 2-3 this winter, having previously earned a 54-48 home win versus Westbrook on Feb. 20 for its other victory of the season. Coach Perras feels pleased with how the Rams are making progress, but he knows that there is still plenty of work to be done with seven games remaining in the campaign. Old Saybrook is slated to play North Branford, Hale-Ray, and Valley Regional this week.
“The top four seeds finish with a bye in the Shoreline Conference Tournament. I’m confident that we can be a top-four team,” Perras said. “My goal for us is to just continue to get better every practice and every game. So far, we’ve done that, but we have a long way to go. We have seven games left in the regular season with three huge games coming up this week. Overall, the team has responded well to everything I’ve thrown at them. I just don’t want us getting complacent.”
One aspect of Old Saybrook’s game that Perras is looking to improve is the team’s offensive efficiency. The Rams struggled to make shots in the Morgan loss, but Perras said that Old Saybrook still had some good looks at the hoop.
“It was tough against Morgan because, if you look at our shot chart, we had a lot of good looks. We just need to do a better job of executing those opportunities when we get the chance,” said Perras. “We also had a lot of turnovers against Morgan. And turnovers typically lead to points for the other team.”
Perras said the atmosphere of Old Saybrook’s games has been different as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the coach feels proud of the Rams for taking everything in stride this year.
“It’s still basketball. You still have to put the ball in the basket, and you still have to stop guys from scoring,” Perras said. “Everything seems pretty status quo. We are all getting used to wearing masks and are just happy to be on the court.”
Old Saybrook’s roster includes senior captain forward Ben Yost, senior guard Garrett Brady, senior forward Aidan Collier, senior guard Ryan Mikulski, senior guard Aidan Rascoe, senior forward Owen Tolve, and senior guard Peter Waida; along with junior captain guard Riley Lawson and junior guard Jake Butler; sophomore guard Ryan Stratton and sophomore guard Aaron Tolve; and freshman guard Connor Lane and freshman forward Auggie Albert.