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The East Haven boys’ basketball team took a 34-26 defeat to Lyman Hall in the SCC Division II Tournament final at Floyd Little Athletic Center on March 26. Pictured for the Yellowjackets are senior captain Nick Furino, Head Coach Ricky Narracci, and senior captain Ian Reynolds. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Nick Furino and the Easties played stanch defense against Lyman Hall in the SCC Division II final, but wound up taking a 34-26 loss to the Trojans in the matchup. Also pictured for East Haven is fellow senior Trey Garea. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Alias Ford and the East Haven boys’ basketball team won an overtime decision versus Hand to advance to the championship game of the SCC Division II Tournament last week. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Ian Reynolds scored 13 points for the Easties when they faced Lyman Hall in the SCC Division II title game. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The East Haven boys’ basketball entered the 2021 season with a senior-laden roster that had aspirations of leading the Yellowjackets the top of the Southern Connecticut Conference. As the campaign progressed, the Easties continued to get better and ultimately played their way into the championship game of the SCC Division II Tournament.
No. 2 seed East Haven advanced to the SCC Division II final by earning a 44-41 overtime home win versus 3rd-seeded Hand in the semifinal round on March 23. Three days later, the Yellowjackets faced top-seeded Lyman Hall in the final at Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven. East Haven played strong defense, holding Lyman Hall to zero points in the second quarter, but the Trojans pulled way in the second half and went on to get a 34-26 victory.
East Haven finished its season with a record of 9-5. Following the SCC final, Ricky Narracci announced that he was stepping down as the Yellowjackets’ head coach.
East Haven trailed Hand 11-6 after the first quarter of their semifinal contest, but the Yellowjackets stormed back to win the second quarter 10-7 and trim the deficit to two points at halftime. East Haven outscored Hand 13-10 in the third quarter, but with the Tigers having a 10-9 edge in the fourth, the game went into overtime. East Haven won the OT period by a 6-3 margin to come away with the 44-41 victory.
“I thought it was one of the best games that I’ve been involved in in my career. Hand had beaten us early in the season. They were probably considered the best team in the tournament,” Coach Narracci said. “We were playing good defense. We just couldn’t get shots. We settled in and went on a 16-0 run between the second and third quarter. The second half was just a great game. We hung on. It was a great win for the kids.”
Senior captain Nick Furino scored 15 points for the Yellowjackets in the victory. Junior Shea Carasone had nine points, and senior Alias Ford scored eight points. Senior captain Ian Reynolds and fellow senior Trey Garea added six points apiece for East Haven.
Coach Narracci was impressed with the fight that the Easties displayed against Hand and how they simply refused to give up.
“I remember telling them that they were doing fine and they were doing what they were asked of them defensively. Once we came back, it put them on their heels a bit,” said Narracci. “They got a little tired, and we were able to get to the free throw line late in the second half. That was the difference.”
East Haven fell into a 15-7 hole after the first quarter when the team faced Lyman Hall in the SCC final. However, the Yellowjackets held Lyman Hall scoreless for the second quarter and were only down 15-14 at the break. The Easties won the third period 9-7 to take a 23-22 lead into the fourth, but Lyman Hall outscored East Haven 12-3 during the final frame to secure the 34-26 victory and win the Division II championship.
“I’ve ran through it in my head and thought about what we could have done different. It comes down to it being two teams who are very familiar with each other. Both teams have senior-dominated teams,” Coach Narracci said. “Neither team could get anything going offensively. It was a strange game. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get a championship for those seniors. It was a tremendous run and a great year. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Reynolds scored 13 points for East Haven in the contest. Ford scored six points, and Garea had five points.
Despite the loss, Narracci was pleased with his team’s defensive performance against Lyman Hall. Narracci credited Assistant Coach Ruddie Montalvo for helping the Yellowjackets improve their play on defense throughout the season.
Furino and Reynolds both served as senior captains in their fourth years with the program this winter. East Haven’s senior class also included Ford, Garea, Elynn Rivera, Mekhi Franklin, Devin Guliani-Santiago, Jayden Ortiz, Alex Duarte, and Larry Mingione.
Coach Narracci said that his senior class proved crucial to the Yellowjackets’ success and that his two captains helped to completely rebuild the program.
“This was the easiest group of kids I’ve ever coached. They worked hard. I can’t say enough good things about the seniors. They bought in and they all filled their role,” said Narracci. “Unless you’re overloaded with talent, it’s hard to win in this league without seniors. Their leadership on and off the court certainly helped us.”
After the final buzzer of the season sounded, Narracci announced that he is stepping down from his role as head coach of East Haven boys’ hoops. Narracci said that the time was right for him to take a step back and let someone else lead the program. In the time following his announcement, Narracci received a slew of texts and phone calls from both former players and current members of the East Haven basketball community.
After his team won just four games last year, Coach Narracci felt that the Easties could come back and put together a special season this winter. While it didn’t end with an SCC title, Narracci believes that the Yellowjackets’ 2021 postseason run is one that will be cherished for a long time.
“When we ended last year, we were really looking forward to this year. We really thought we could compete for a state championship this year. When they went to the two-division tournament in the SCC, we got excited. That was our state tournament,” Narracci said. “It was a great run. A lot of teams don’t get to play on the last day of the season. It was a great experience. Those memories will stick with them forever.”
The East Haven boys’ basketball team’s roster features senior captains Nick Furino and Ian Reynolds; seniors Alias Ford, Trey Garea, Elynn Rivera, Mekhi Franklin, Larry Mingione, Devin Guliani-Santiago, Jayden Ortiz, and Alex Duarte; juniors Timothy Case, Joe Conte-Verderame, Chris Bagnoli, Kyle Cusano, Michael Capozzo, Shea Carasone, and Hassan Ali; sophomores Caleb Kaiser, Dominic Salato, Theo Rawls, and Rocco Lombardi; and freshmen Jason Kapinos and Jason Chapman.