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Wamogo’s Chuck Aleksinas was virtually unstoppable in 1977 but Canton beat him

Playing for UConn, Chuck Aleksinas, left, battles Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing (33) in a Big East contest. (Photo courtesy UConn Athletics)

CANTON – There was a time when the University of Kentucky was recruiting a basketball player from Morris, Connecticut.

In the winter of 1977, Chuck Aleksinas was a 6-foot-10 forward at Wamogo Regional in Litchfield, who was virtually unstoppable. In his senior campaign, Aleksinas scored 960 points and averaged 40.1 points per game. He scored over 50 points twice, scored more than 40 points 12 times and had 23 games with more than 30 points.

Wamogo advanced as far as the Class S semifinals before losing to St. Thomas Aquinas, a little Catholic school in New Britain with high school All-American guard Rod Foster on their roster. The Saints’ speedy guards helped limit the number of times that Aleksinas touched the ball and it helped Aquinas beat Wamogo.

Aleksinas would play in college. He played two years at Kentucky and won a NCAA championship (1978) before transferring to UConn where he played for two years.

Rick Wilson, columnist with Litchfield County Sports, recently took a look back at Aleksinas’ outstanding senior season when few teams could handle him.

Canton faced Aleksinas and Wamogo in early January 1977 at home. Like most teams that winter, Canton struggled to slow down Aleksinas, who sank 21 field goals and scored 44 points — a new building record.

“He was something,” said Roger Coutu, a junior on the Canton High squad that year. “I remember trying to push him. It was like trying to push a house.

“He was just enormous,” Coutu remembered. “He was a big, physical guy but he had a soft touch and he was a good shooter.”

According to Coutu, the strategy from third-year head coach Bill Mudano was to accept that Aleksinas would get his points. The Warriors needed to focus on Aleksinas’ teammates.  Marc McLeod added 14 points for Wamogo but three other Wamogo players combined for just three points.

Jim Callahan hit two free throws with five seconds remaining to lift Canton to a 63-61 win over Wamogo.

Callahan scored 20 points for Canton while Coutu finished with a team-high 22 points. Peter Scott scored 10 points for the Warriors, who led 33-31 at halftime. It was the sixth win in eight games for Canton, a team that would a few weeks later capture their first league championship in 14 years and just their second league crown in 50 years.

Canton won the 1977 Northwest Conference Division II title with a 9-1 record — their first league championship since 1963.

Part of that championship season was Coutu setting a new building and school record with 46 points against Litchfield on February 23 — records that still stand today. The high school had opened just seven years earlier in 1970.

And don’t forget, there was no three-point shot in those days. Coutu sank 21 field goals and four free throws for his 46 points.

Read about Aleksinas’ outstanding senior season in Litchfield County Sports.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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