CANTON, February 20 – The Canton High boys basketball team made some history on Tuesday night. The Warriors easily took care of business with a 62-51 victory over East Granby to clinch a share of their second straight North Central Connecticut Conference championship.
They’ve been played basketball in Canton since the early 1920s and this is just the third time ever that Canton has won back-to-back league championships. The last time this happened was in 1981 and 1982 when the Warriors captured back-to-back Northwest Conference Division II banners.
Canton (17-3, 14-2 NCCC) shared the title with Hartford’s Sport Medicine Science Academy (15-5, 14-2 NCCC). The Warriors are the last NCCC squad to beat the Tigers, who have won 11 straight league games to grab a share of the championship.
“This is a testament to a tough group of seniors,” Canton High coach Craig Archambault said. “We have five of them and they’ve been playing together since their sophomore year. It’s a credit to them to hang in there in a tight race this year. It’s something special.”
Luke Brown, Jack Mansur, Ryan Enns, Tim Keating and Mitchell Cormier are the five seniors on the squad.
“We’re obviously excited about it,” Brown said. “It’s a big accomplishment but we still have goals to achieve this season and our eyes are on that.”
Canton won their first two league games before dropping a 55-47 decision to Granby in early January. But the Warriors captured 10 straight NCCC victories including a hard-fought 75-69 win over Hartford Classical and a 58-42 victory over SMSA on the road.
The Warriors stumbled in a 60-43 loss to HMTCA (Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy) but Canton won their last two league games by beating Rockville, 54-47, last week and East Granby on Tuesday night.
“It means a lot,” Enns said. “This is a testament to all of the hard work we have put in every day and to all of the values that coach engrains in us. It feels good but we’re not done yet. We’re hungry for the conference tournament and obviously for the state tournament.”
Thanks to their win over SMSA in January, Canton is the top seed in the NCCC Tournament that begins Wednesday night. The Warriors will host either No. 8 East Windsor or No. 9 HMTCA on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the league quarterfinals.
The Warriors will be looking for their first NCCC Tournament championship. Canton is 0-4 in NCCC Tournament championship games. These seniors were on the Canton team in 2016 that lost to East Windsor on a buzzer-beating, three-point shot in the NCCC final.
And in March, Canton will be playing in the CIAC’s Division V tournament that consists of 19 small public schools and two magnet schools. HMTCA and New Britain-based Innovation are the only magnet schools that qualified for the Division V tournament.
“This is the type of team where different guys stepped up on different nights,” Archambault said. “In big games, we had the right guys step up.”
Canton controlled the visiting Crusaders from the start and the seniors didn’t play a second of the fourth quarter. Jack Rose and Ryan Enns led the way for the Warriors with 12 points while Brown added 11 points. Austin Phillips had 13 points for the Crusaders (2-18).
The Warriors finished the regular season with a 17-3 record. It’s the first time in team history that the Warriors have posted back-to-back 17-3 seasons. It’s the most regular season wins (34) over a two-year span in program history — besting 33 regular season victories in 2009 (19-1) and 2010 (14-6) and in 1981 (17-3) and 1982 (16-4).
NOTES: The first time the team won back-to-back titles was when Collinsville High won three straight Farmington Valley League championships in 1925-27. … Tuesday night’s game began at 5 p.m. so that the Canton High girls basketball team could host Granby in the NCCC Tournament semifinals.
Canton 62, East Granby 51
East Granby (51) Jon Wilson 1 3-4 5, Jameson Gill 4 2-6 11, Austin Phillips 6-0-13, Jack Turbidy 3 2-2 10, Adam Newhall 1-0-3, Jake Read 2-0-6, Justin Lachonte 1 1-2 3, Ethan Lakomy 0-0-0, Luke Denno 0-0-0. Totals 18-8-14 51
Canton (62) Tristan Witzgall 0-0-0, Luke Brown 5-0-11, Logan Mansur 0-0-0, Jack Mansur 1 1-1 3, Dugan Lloyd 2-0-4, Thomas Amrose 2-0-5, Ryan Enns 4 4-6 12, Grant Lange 2-0-4, Michael Sullivan 0-0-0, Tim Keating 3-0-6, Matt Rose 0-0-0, Mitchell Cormier 2 1-2 5, Jack Rose 5 1-2 12. Totals 26 7-11 62
East Granby (2-18) 5 13 14 19 – 51
Canton (17-3) 15 17 21 9 – 62
Three-point goals: Brown (Ca), Amrose (Ca), Jack Rose (Ca), Turbidy (EG), Gill (EG), Phillips (EG), Newhall (EG), Read (EG) 2