CANTON, Dec. 22 – The Canton High boys basketball team is looking to contend for a championship this season in the North Central Connecticut Conference. The Warriors have an experienced team returning led by senior captains Cameron Lange and Rieley Hoffman, who have already earned three varsity letters.
Canton opened its season Tuesday night by facing the defending NCCC champions – Sport Medicine Science Academy (SMSA) out of Hartford and it was a battle to the final buzzer. Twice, the Warriors led by six only to see the Tigers rally back and take the lead.
Hoffman hit a jump shot with 11 seconds remaining that gave the Warriors a one-point lead but SMSA sank three free throws in the final 10 seconds to lift the Tigers to a 55-53 opening night victory in Canton.
The Warriors led by six in the second quarter, 28-22, only to see the Tigers regain the lead. In the third quarter, Canton led 36-30 but SMSA went on a 10-0 run to retake the lead. Canton led, 51-46 in the fourth quarter but the Tigers refused to fold and went on a 6-0 run to move ahead in the final minute.
Lorenzo Aikens led SMSA with 15 points while Jonathan Hernadez added 12 points. For Canton, guard Ethan Burke led the way with 14 points while senior big man Jake Schaetzel and Cameron Lange each had 11 points.
Canton returns to the court on Monday night when they travel to Burlington to renew an old rivalry with defending Berkshire League Tournament champion Lewis Mills at 7:30 p.m. On Tuesday night, they’ll be challenged by long-time foe Avon at 6 p.m. at Lewis Mills in Burlington. Mills will play Granby at 7:30 p.m. in the nightcap on Tuesday night.
NOTE: It was the start of the 96th season of varsity basketball for the Canton, which fielded its first varsity team in December 1920. … Avon faces Granby in the early game on Monday night at Lewis Mills. … Canton has lost four of its last five opening night contests. The most recent win came in December 2013 when the Warriors beat SMSA, 61-58. … SMSA leads the series with Canton by a 5-3 margin. The schools first met on the court in 2002.
SMSA 55, Canton 53
SMSA (55) Keith Poitier 3-0-8, Ryan Rivera 5-1-14, Lorenzo Aikens 5-5-15, Daquan Carr 1-3-5, Jonathan Hernandez 3-5-12, Rohan Bennett 0-1-1. Totals 17-15-55
Canton (53) Rieley Hoffman 2-2-7, Azon Click 2-0-6, Luke Brown 2-0-4, Jake Schaetzel 5-1-11, Ethan Burke 5-2-14, Cameron Lange 5-0-11. Totals
SMSA (1-0) 15 9 17 14 — 55
Canton (0-1) 19 9 13 12 – 53
Three-point goals: Poitier (S) 2, Rivera (S) 3, Hernandez (S), Hoffman (C), Click (C) 2, Burke (C) 2, Lange (C)