GRANBY, March 1 – The Granby Memorial boys basketball team wanted to make their shot to win the North Central Connecticut Conference tournament count. The Bears have not had much success lately in the NCCC tournament championship game, losing in their last four appearances.
The Bears played with a ferocious intensity on defense to limit the Purple Knights to just three field goals in the first half as No. 2 seeded Granby won their first NCCC Tournament title since 2006 with a 50-39 win over No. 4 Ellington Friday before a sold-out gym in Granby.
There were more than 100 people waiting in line to get into the building minutes before the game. With no room in the gymnasium, the fans were invited to watch the game on closed circuit television in the auditorium. Many took up the offer while dozens of students worked their way back into the gym as the game progressed and sat on the floor near the edges of the court.
They saw their Bears take a 10-point lead after one quarter, 15-5 and extended it to 31-9 at halftime. Granby (20-3) created several turnovers that led to fast break baskets and they rebounded with passion, seldom allowing Ellington another crack at the basket.
Granby knew they had to keep the ball out of Ellington’s hands. The Purple Knights sank 12 three-point shots in their upset win over league champion Hartford Classical, 71-70, two nights earlier in the tournament semifinals.
“We rebounded very well in the first half,” Granby High coach Walter Hansen said. “We really controlled the game defensively by rebounding and it was a lot of fun.”
Ellington (18-5) was not amused in the first half. When Ryan Zahner scored a basket in the lane with 2:17 left in the second quarter, it was just the third field goal of the half for the Purple Knights and the first field goal since the 2:10 mark of the first quarter.
Zahner’s basket cut the lead to 11 points, 20-9 but Granby closed out the half with an 11-0 run that included two 3-point shots of their own from Elliyas Delaire and one three-point shot from Daniel Pierce.
Led by Delaire, the tournament MVP, the Bears sank seven 3-point shots in the game. Delaire had four 3-point shots for his game-high 15 points. Rowan Heintz added 12 for the Bears while Pierce had nine points.
Two days after scoring 71 points, the Purple Knight managed just 39 points and were led by Anthony Beasley with 10 points while Ryan Zahner and Colin Garrow scoring nine points each.
Ellington tried to rally in the third quarter. The Purple Knights opened the third quarter with a 11-4 run to cut the Granby lead to 15 points but James Shelansky hit a three-point shot to extend the lead back to 18 points.
In the fourth quarter, Ellington cut the lead to nine points, 43-34 with 3:20 remaining when Collin Garrow sank a three-point shot. The Knights forced a Granby turnover and quickly came down court and missed a three-point shots and lost the rebound.
Granby took the ball and fed it to Heintz, who hit a three-point shot from the corner to push the lead back to 12 points with 2:44 remaining, 46-34. Ellington would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
The win was Granby’s first NCCC Tournament title since 2006 and the second in school history. Ellington was looking for their first NCCC Tournament title since 1982. The Knights were playing in their first tourney title game since 2010.
Both teams return to action next week in the CIAC Division IV boys basketball tournament. No. 6 Ellington hosts No. 27 Woodland Regional on Monday night with the winner advancing to the second round on Wednesday.
No. 3 Granby has a first round bye but will play the winner of the game between Sheehan High and Goodwin Tech on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in the Den.
Granby 50, Ellington 39
Ellington (39) Anthony Beasley 4-2-10, Ryan Zahner 3-2-9, Brandon Zahner 0-0-0, Thomas Garrow 0-0-0, Logan Macaluso 0-0-0, Colin Garrow 3-2-9, Gavin Laughlin 3-0-8. Totals 13-6-39
Granby (50) Elliyas Delaire 5-1-15, Dylan Disabella 0-0-0, Jack DeGray 0-2-2, Rowan Heintz 4-3-12, James Shelansky 2-0-5, Daniel Pierce 3-2-9, Parker Hansen 0-0-0, Peyton Large 3-1-7, Ryan Gemme 0-0-0. Totals 17-9-50
Ellington (18-5) 5 4 18 12 – 39
Granby (20-3) 15 16 10 9 – 50
Three-point goals: Delaire (G) 4, Heintz (G), Pierce (G), Shelansky (G); Ryan Zahner (Ell), Colin Garrow (Ell), Laughlin (Ell) 2
All-Tournament team: Robert Simmons, Classical; Matt Augustine, HMTCA, Anthony Beasley and Colin Garrow, Ellington; James Shelansky, Rowan Heintz and Elliyas Delaire, Granby. Tournament MVP: Delaire.
2019 NCCC boys basketball tournament
Games at higher seeds
Thursday, February 21
Rockville 54, Coventry 39
Suffield 54, SMSA 49
HMTCA 81, Bolton 64
Friday, February 22
Hartford Classical 68, Rockville 61
Granby 48, Suffield 42
HMTCA 69, Somers 61
Saturday, February 23
Canton 77, East Granby 57
Monday, February 25
Ellington 56, Canton 41
Wednesday, February 27
Ellington 71, Classical 70
Granby 54, HMTCA 52
Friday, March 1
Granby 50, Ellington 39