CANTON, Jan. 18 – With Canton’s All-State forward Andrew Crowley shut down by a pesky, aggressive Suffield High defense, Crowley’s Warrior teammates picked up the slack and earned a magical victory last week.
Crowley, Canton’s newest 1,000 point scorer who was averaging 25 points a game, was held to just four points. And the Warriors were down six points with two minutes remaining.
With some defensive pressure and strong play inside, Canton rallied to earn a 48-44 victory over Suffield. Coupled with a 61-43 win over East Granby and another lopsided victory over Portland on Saturday night, 83-62, the Warriors (6-2, 4-0 NCCC) ended the week with five straight victories and an undefeated record in the league.
Suffield presented a big challenge to Crowley and his teammates. “They played a diamond-and-one defense on him,” Canton coach Eric Deegan said. “We didn’t work hard enough to get him shots.”
The upside was that Canton turned in its best defensive performance to date. “We extended our defense a little more and kept the dribbler in front of us,” Deegan said.
Down by six with two minutes remaining, Deegan told his players to drive to the basket. After a timeout, James Rosshirt drove to the basket for a layup to cut the lead to four. After holding Suffield scoreless, Crowley sank a rebound to trim the lead to two.
On Canton’s next possession, the Warriors had three opportunities to score. On the third rebound, Connor Smyth sank the basket and was fouled. He sank the foul shot to give Canton a one-point lead. Then, Rosshirt got a big steal and Mike Setzler sank two foul shots to help ice the victory.
Smyth led Canton with 16 points, including 11 in the pivotal fourth quarter. Mike Pepin added 10 points. Setzler played for the first time this year and scored nine points, including a three-pointer. A starter a year ago, he injured his ankle during the summer. It is still stiff and sore but he is able to contribute some valuable minutes.
Canton wasn’t particularly sharp in the win over East Granby. Crowley led the way with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five steals while Rosshirt added 16 points.
Against Portland, Crowley tied his career-high that he set in the opener (also against Portland) with 32 points while Smyth had 17 points and 16 rebounds. Rosshirt added another 16 points.
GIRLS BASKETBALL: The Warriors (5-5, 3-2 NCCC) moved within three games of qualifying for the CIAC Class S tournament with a thrilling 41-38 victory over East Granby last week.
Sarah Getz had a career-high 20 points and hit the game-winning three-point shot with 1.5 seconds left in regulation. The original shot by Katherine Curvino was blocked but Getz grabbed the rebound and hit the shot.
Megan Roux added 10 as the Warriors outscored the Crusaders, 14-7 in the final eight minutes thanks to some key defensive plays.
However, later in the week, Canton had difficulty scoring in a 48-33 loss to Suffield. Canton trailed by 10 at halftime and by 18 after three quarters. Getz led the way with 12 points while Katherine Curvino added nine.