CANTON, Feb. 17, 2021 – Playing time wasn’t much of an issue for the Canton High boys basketball team in Wednesday night’s North Central Connecticut Conference contest with East Granby.
Due to contact tracing to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, one varsity player is out on quarantine due to a potential exposure. Canton’s entire junior varsity team is also out for two weeks on quarantine.
Canton had just seven players in uniform but it was more than enough against the overmatched Crusaders. The Warriors remained undefeated (3-0) with a 75-27 victory led by senior Josh Burke, who scored 32 points and drained six three-point field goals.
Silas Sawtelle had 11 points while Ryan McGoldrick and Nate Lincoln added nine points each for the Warriors. Ethan LaKomy led East Granby (1-2) with eight points.
It was 6-6 early in the first quarter before the Warriors went on a 16-0 run to seize control of the game. Canton held East Granby to single digit scoring in all four quarters.
Canton’s pressing and aggressive defense forced numerous East Granby turnovers that led to fast break opportunities for the Warriors. “We press teams and get up (on) them,” Burke said. “That is the type of defense we play and the type of defense that makes us good.”
It was a good day for the Warriors, who extended their winning streak against the Crusaders to 11 games, dating back to 2012.
“I told them when they came into the gym today to feel grateful,” Canton coach Craig Archambault said. “Feel lucky that you are playing. You get to play today. There are two teams in our league in quarantine (HMTCA and Granby). Everyday we get to practice, every day we get to play is a good day.
“You can do everything right and COVID wins and you are shut down for 14 days,” he said.
Canton was supposed to face HMTCA on Friday but that game will be rescheduled.
“Win the day. Win the practice. Win the game,” Archambault said.
These players are well aware of the fragility of their season. Many were the Canton team that won the NCCC Tournament title last March with a thrilling win over Granby in front of a loud and raucous crowd in this same gymnasium. It ended up being the final game of the season when the emerging pandemic forced the cancellation of the CIAC Division IV tournament with Canton being seeded No. 1.
Practice for this season didn’t begin until the third week of January and games didn’t begin until last week.
“We’re blessed to be able to play this year with everything going on,” McGoldrick said. “We were prepared for the worst but we worked hard in the off season to be prepared for this.”
Added Nate Lincoln, ”We love to compete. We’re a brotherhood here. We’re just trying to get wins every night. That is what brings us joy – to go out and compete hard.”
It’s a group that have been playing together since the fourth grade when they began playing in a inter-town youth basketball league.
“It’s more fun when we’re all on the court together,” Canton’s Colin Mackin said.
The Warriors return to action next week when they host defending league champion SMSA at 5:30 p.m. on Monday night. The game will be broadcast live on the NFHS network. No visiting spectators are allowed in the gym and each player can only have two relatives from their immediate home attend the game.
Playing In a global pandemic that has disrupted so many facets of everyone’s lives, Archambault doesn’t have to remind his players to “go make memories and have fun together.”
Canton 75, East Granby 27
East Granby (27) Patrick LaKomy 1-0-2, Ethan LaKomy 3-2-8, Morgan Rybzyck 1-0-2, Matt Fortier 1-0-3, Joseph Dunlap 2-1-5, Sean Griffin 1-0-2, Evan Malinowski 2-0-5. Totals 11-3
Canton (75) Brandon Powell 1-0-2, Luke Mansur 4-1-9, Colin Mackin 1-1-3, Ryan McGoldrick 3-2-9, Silas Sawtelle 4-1-11, Nate Lincoln 4-0-9, Josh Burke 13-0-32. Totals 30-5
East Granby (1-2) 6 8 8 5 — 27
Canton (3-0) 13 20 20 22 — 75
Three-point goals: Burke (Ca) 6, Sawtelle (Ca) 2, McGoldrick (Ca), Lincoln (Ca); Malinowski (EG), Fortier (EG)