Warriors Claim Senior Night Victory
Junior James Marsden and the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team won a game and lost a game last week to move to 6-4 on the season. Marsden had a magnificent effort with 23 points and 18 rebounds in the in the Warriors’ 67-57 overtime loss on March 8. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Marcus SantaMaria and the Warriors picked up a big 65-42 home win over Hale-Ray on Senior Night on March 11. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Simon Partyka continues to impress at the point for the Warriors with his sharp decision-making an high basketball IQ. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The Valley Regional boys’ basketball team finished up the penultimate week of the regular season with a pair of contests last week. The Warriors faced off against Old Lyme and Hale-Ray and came away with a split in those two contests.
Head Coach Kevin Woods’s squad moved to 6-4 on the season as it hopes to finish the year strong heading into the postseason.
The Warriors began the week’s slate with a home game against Old Lyme on March 8. The Warriors battled with the Wildcats, but ultimately dropped the contest, 67-57, in overtime. Coach Woods wished the result could been different, but he hopes that the players and coaching staff will be able to look back at the loss and consider it a moment of growth.
“I think Old Lyme is going to be called a character-building game. We had opportunities to win, and for a variety of reasons it didn’t happen. The character part comes in here. You can look at external factors, but there were things internally we could have done better,” said Coach Woods. “Had we done a better job coaching, had we made a few less mistakes, that game would have been different. I put it on myself 100 percent. I believe that if you can’t be accountable for your own actions and what you could’ve done better, you can’t tell your team that they should be accountable.”
Valley took an early advantage after an 11-7 first quarter, but Old Lyme cut into the lead in the second to knot the score at 20-20 by halftime. The Warriors put together a strong third quarter to hold a 36-32 edge going into the fourth, but again Old Lyme tied the score at 49-49 by the end of regulation leading to overtime. Old Lyme locked down in the extra frame 18-8, and Valley ultimately lost the contest, 67-57.
“Within that game we played an unbelievable first quarter, and defensively we played great. Going back to Saybrook, we’ve had great first quarters. We looked tired down the stretch against Old Lyme. We didn’t have those quality possession that we had in the first quarter,” Woods said. “For us to win games, we have to sustain effort and execution throughout four quarters. Hats off to Old Lyme. They beat us up inside a little bit. Reflecting, there’s no magic call that will make the game better, but our emphasis in practice can. So we’ve been working on our post defense.”
Junior James Marsden had an outstanding effort for the Warriors with 23 points, 18 rebounds, and three steals. Junior Saager Patel provided 16 points, six boards, and a steal, while fellow junior Simon Partyka supplied nine points, eight assists, and five steals. Senior captain Marcus SantaMaria added four rebounds and five assists, and senior Kyle Montecalvo had six points and a steal.
Even in the loss, Coach Woods saw plenty of positives from Marsden, Patel, and Partyka. They have all come a long way from last season when the Warriors were a very talented, senior-laden squad.
“Marsden is fundamentally sound in how he goes about rebounding. He goes for everything two-handed, and that gives him a good chance. Pair that with his athleticism, strength, and jumping ability, and he’s great. What he could do better is actually score inside, but he was really difficult to deal with on the perimeter that game,” Woods said. “I think Simon is one of the better guards in the league, in general. He brings it everyday. He’s a huge part of what we do, he sets the tone and the tempo of the game. Saager will be one of the best players in the league with more experience. He’s getting there. The numbers don’t really reflect how good he could be.”
On March 11, the Warriors turned it around with a big 65-42 home win against Hale-Ray on Senior Night. Valley jumped out to a big 19-5 lead in the first quarter, but Hale-Ray managed to stop the bleeding in the second quarter, ending the first half with the Warriors up 34-21. Valley applied the pressure again in the third quarter to take a 48-29 lead, and the Warriors closed out the game with a 17-13 fourth quarter to get a 65-42 win.
Coach Woods felt the team had some solid practices after the Old Lyme loss. The Warriors also got a big bump from having a limited audience for the Senior Night festivities. Each senior player was allowed to have two parents in the Valley Regional gym to watch the game, and it was the first audience of any kind for the Warriors.
“It wasn’t a lot, but it was more than we’ve had. What it came down to, it was a big game for us. We needed that win to have a home game in the playoffs. We could have a bye and a home game if we win the next one, too,” said Woods. “Without getting this win, we might not have had any home games. We had to have that game. Throw Senior Night on top that, and it’s a big game. It can be tricky because you want to make sure you play the seniors. Some years that means you sacrifice points, but this year it didn’t. Our seniors did a great job.”
Marsden had another fantastic showing with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Partyka added 13 points, seven assists, and three steals. SantaMaria scored a baker’s dozen as well, to go with two boards, an assist, and a block. Montecalvo added seven points, two rebounds, and four assists, while Patel had five points and a rebound. Senior Tommy Burch supplied six points, four rebounds, and an assist. Senior captain Keenan Pindar had three rebounds, three steals, and two points. Seniors Kyle Metz and Cam Ruel also got into the mix.
“We had an unbelievable performance from Tommy Burch. It was a chance to show off what he can do for us. He can bring something different. One of our weaknesses is size, and Tommy brings that. He’s strong, one of the strongest and biggest in the league along with Kyle Metz,” said Coach Woods. “Keenan was an absolute stud defensively. He’s one of the top defenders in the league. Cam Ruel is a defensive stopper for us and a great athlete, too. We’re fortunate to have them. Kyle Montecalvo was also a big guy for us inside. He dropped seven for us and hit a big three early in the game. Some big baskets later in the game. It was a great Senior Night.”
With the Shoreline Conference Tournament looming, Coach Woods is eager to see how the seeding shakes out this coming week. Whatever happens, the Warriors will be ready.
“If we win we have a bye unless Portland beats Morgan and Old Lyme beats East Hampton. No matter what, we’re in store for a great conference tournament. I think anyone from one through nine can win. Morgan is obviously the heavy favorite, but throw the records out. They don’t matter,” said Coach Woods. “That’s how equal this league is right now. I would like to tip my cap to all the coaches in the league this year. From first seed to 12th in the tournament, they’ve all worked incredibly hard to give all the players the best experience possible and the best chance to win.”