GRANBY, January 24 – It’s nearly the midpoint of the season for the Granby Memorial boys basketball team. It was game nine for the Bears on Friday night against undefeated Canton, a team looking to tie a school record with a 12th straight win to open the season.
Granby coach Walter Hansen said his Bears are still trying to establish their identity. They may have found it.
With a swarming defense, the Bears handed Canton their first loss of the season on Friday night, 58-53, before a loud and raucous crowd in Granby. Twice, in the final two minutes, Canton cut the lead to one only to see the Bears hit big shots and frustrate the Warriors defensively.
After Granby extended their lead to three with 1:11 to go, the Warriors got the ball but couldn’t get a shot up. They called timeout. Josh Burke was finally able to get a shot away with 15 seconds left but his three-point attempt hit the rim. Canton’s Matt Rose came down with the rebound but Burke’s second shot was blocked by Granby junior Jack DeGray.
“We have several good athletes on this team that can make plays. Dylan Disabella, Rowan Heinze. They are real good athletes who know how to play,” Hansen said.
Rose has been a dominant player for the Warriors this season. He had a career-high 32 points in a win Tuesday night on the road in Ellington. Against the Bears, he scored a game-high 20 points but he also had several shots swatted away.
“We’re trying to establish our identity defensively,” Hansen said. “We have that in us to play great defense, talk and communicate.”
DeGray had a game-high 17 points for the Bears (7-2), who have beaten two undefeated teams in the past week. Last Friday night, Granby handed Ellington their first loss of the season after seven consecutive victories.
“We’ve been called for a lot of blocking fouls lately so we’re working on taking charges and keeping our hands straight up (to block shots),” DeGray said. “We know (Canton) likes to go for layups so we’re contesting them the best we can.”
It was a battle from the start. Granby held a 10-8 lead after one quarter – an eight-minute stretch filled with plenty of turnovers on both sides. In the second quarter, the Bears built a seven-point lead thanks to good, hard play in the lane along with a steal and layup from Granby’s Joshua Brown.
Granby extended the lead to eight, 26-18, thanks to back-to-back baskets from DeGray.
Canton took their only lead of the second half in the third quarter, 30-29, thanks to a 10-3 run with Matt Rose scoring four points, Josh Burke converting on a three-point play and Ryan McGoldrick draining a three-point shot.
But the Bears came right back with a driving layup to the basket by Brown and a deep three-point shot from DeGray for a 34-30 lead.
“We threw the ball all over the gym in the first half and that got us down,” Canton coach Craig Archambault said. “When you play from behind against a good team on their home court in a tough environment, you spend so much energy to get back.”
Granby led by four with 3:50 remaining, 51-47, before Canton’s Thomas Amrose drove the baseline and scored with 3:35 left to cut the lead to two. Rose got a steal and was fouled with 2:51 remaining. He hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to one, 51-50.
Disabella drove the basket, scored and was fouled with 2:24 remaining. He sank the foul shot to extend the Granby lead to four points, 54-50. Despite behind double-teamed in the lane, Rose scored with 2:02 left to cut the lead to two points.
After a Granby miss, Canton pulled down the rebound and Burke was fouled taking a shot on the baseline with 1:27 to go in the game. Burke sank one of two free throws to cut the lead to one, 54-53.
But Granby responded when sophomore John Bell drove the lane to the basket for his only score of the game with 1:11 remaining and a 56-53 lead.
Canton would get just two shots up off the floor in the final 71 seconds of the contest. One went off the rim and the second shot was blocked by DeGray.
“I told them to learn from this and let it go,” Archambault said. “There will be bumps along the way. We want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”
The Warriors return to action on Monday night when they host Nonnewaug from the Berkshire League in a non-league contest beginning at 6:45 p.m. before resuming play in the NCCC with contests at HMTCA on Wednesday and hosting Somers on Friday night.
Granby, a CIAC Division IV finalist a year ago, will be challenged on Monday night when they travel to New Haven to face Amistad, who lost in the Division III finals to Farmington last March at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Granby 58, Canton 53
Canton (53) Chris Tenczar 0 2-2 2, Colin Mackin 0-0-0, Matt Rose 7 6-10 20, Silas Sawtelle 1 5-6 7, Thomas Amrose 3-0-7, Josh Burke 3 1-1 8, Ryan McGoldrick 1-0-3, Jack Rose 1 4-4 6. Totals 16 18-23 53
Granby (58) Dylan Disabella 1-2-4, John Bell 1-0-2, Aidan Goodrow 1-0-3, Joshua Brown 2-4-4, Rowan Heinze 6-1-13, Jack DeGray 5-5-17, Ralph Rossi 1-0-2, Jack Dear 3-0-9. Totals 20 12-17 58
Canton (11-1) 8 12 17 16 — 53
Granby (7-2) 10 16 15 17 — 58
Three-point goals: Amrose (Ca), Burke (Ca), McGoldrick (Ca), Goodrow (G), DeGray (G) 2, Dear (G) 3
NCCC boys basketball
Somers 53, Suffield 44
Granby 58, Canton 53SMSA 73, Bolton 50
HMTCA 69, Ellington 63
Nonnewaug at Canton
Granby at Amistad
Somers at Ellington
Rockville at SMSAWednesday’s games
Somers at Granby
Canton at HMTCA
SMSA at Suffield