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Sophomore Ryan Stratton and the Old Saybrook boys’ basketball squad added three more wins to their tally last week to move to 5-3 on the season. Stratton had a gigantic fourth quarter in the Rams’ 59-55 win over Hale-Ray on March 2. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Freshman Auggie Albert and the Rams had a huge 49-46 road win against Valley Regional on March 4. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
The Old Saybrook boys’ basketball team is on a roll after a stellar stretch of three wins last week. The Rams played contests against North Branford, Hale-Ray, and Valley Regional last week, and picked up three victories, which improved Old Saybrook’s record to 5-3 on the year.
The Rams started the week with a road game against North Branford on March 1. Old Saybrook secured a solid 58-33 victory over the Thunderbirds thanks to contributions from all over the roster. Head Coach Chris Perras thought the Rams needed that variety of attack because North Branford played tough and made Old Saybrook work for the win, despite the 58-33 final score.
“Everybody who got into the game contributed. We were spreading the wealth, especially later on in the game,” said Perras. “That first half was one of the toughest halves we played all year. North Branford is well coached, and they hang around. They are not a team that you can take a game off. They are pesky, and they will get into you. The final score doesn’t indicate that, but they are a tough team.”
Old Saybrook outscored North Branford 10-4 in the first quarter, and by the end of the first half, the Rams held just a 19-14 advantage. Old Saybrook took over in the second half, outpacing North Branford 39-19 en route to the 58-33 win.
Old Saybrook was supported by a big 17-point effort from junior captain Riley Lawson, while sophomore Aaron Tolve added eight points for the Rams.
Coach Perras knows that Lawson will bring his best every night after learning the ropes on one of the Rams’ most successful squads in recent memory.
“Riley, he has the most varsity experience on the team, and he really saw a lot during that 16-7 season his freshman year. He knows where we want to get back to as a program,” said Perras. “Going into the season, we though he was going to be the off guard, but he’s really emerged as a point guard for us.”
The next day, Old Saybrook hosted a contest against Hale-Ray and picked up a narrow 59-55 victory over the Noises. The Rams picked up a hard-fought win against after it looked like the game might have been slipping away. Old Saybrook got out to a nine-point lead at the end of the first half, but Hale-Ray went on a big 24-10 run in the third quarter. The Rams got a huge fourth quarter from sophomore Ryan Stratton, who scored 18 of his overall 24 points in the final frame.
“When we played at their place last year, we were up 21 points at the half and lost that game. We outscored them in the fourth quarter with Ryan Stratton going off for 18 points. It’s someone different every night stepping up to help us out,” Perras said. “We switched up our defense, Ryan got a couple of steals. He himself went on a 7-0 run. He knocked down a three and grabbed a couple of steals.”
On March 4, Old Saybrook a tight 49-46 road victory against Valley Regional. Perhaps most impressive was the Rams’ ability to rally after falling behind early. The Warriors jumped out to a 19-6 lead after the first quarter, but Old Saybrook narrowed the gap to 24-18 by halftime. Valley extended the advantage to 37-28 after the third quarter, and then the Rams posted a 21-9 fourth to eke out the 49-46 victory.
The Rams were able to score a big win against a tough Valley Regional team thanks in no small part to the play of sophomore sixth man Aaron Tolve, who sank bucket after bucket for 21 points. Tolve has excelled as a spark off the bench for Old Saybrook.
“Aaron Tolve can handle the ball, but he doesn’t have to. It depends on who’s on the court. He went off for 21 against Valley. He started out just catching and shooting, but then as the game went, on he was creating his own shots,” said Perras. “He was confident out there. It just so happened that was his night. He took over the game and was a difference-maker.”
Stratton supplied 12 points in the win over Valley Regional, while freshman Auggie Albert had some key tip-out rebounds to secure important possessions.
Senior captain Ben Yost notched nine points. Yost has been a true leader for the Rams this year and nothing typified that better than how he responded on the bus ride home after the victory over the Warriors.
“Ben moved in from Pennsylvania last year. He’s a dog out there. Every play is a hustle play for him. He contests every rebound, which is a key piece to our offense,” said Coach Perras. “Of course the team was really happy after going three for three on the week. I said to Ben and Riley, ‘I thought you guys would be more excited,’ and Ben said, ‘Coach, we’ve got a game Monday.’ I think that speaks volumes. You can’t get too high off a win or too low on a loss. You just have to focus on the next one.”