CANTON, March 7, 2023 – It was the wrong night to struggle offensively for the Canton High boys basketball team. The Warriors put up plenty of shots in Tuesday night’s 45-38 loss to No. 18 Somers in the CIAC Division IV state tournament.
But too many shots bounced off the rim or fell shy of the rim as the Spartans beat No. 15 Canton for the first time this season in three games.
Somers (13-10) limited Canton to just one point in the second quarter as the visiting Spartans turned a five-point deficit into a six-point lead at halftime.
Somers had a two-point lead when Troy Maia was fouled with 3.7 seconds left in the second quarter. Maia made the first shot of a one-and-one to extend the lead to three points. But when he missed the second one, a teammate rebounded the ball and fired it back outside the three-point line to Cody Ferrera, who drained a three-point shot as time expired to push the lead to six.
Canton (13-10) cut the lead to one, 25-24, on a jumper from Brandon Powell with 5:03 left in the third quarter but the Spartans closed out the quarter with an 8-2 run to extend their lead again.
Powell led all scorers with 23 points. Ben Cuniowski had seven for the Warriors with Matthew Benedetti getting six points.
Troy Maia led Somers with 15 points with Cordy Ferrera adding 11 points, including a pair of three-point shots.
“That’s (defense) been our calling card all year. We’ve been a good defensive team at times,” Somers head coach Tony Palazzesi said “We have trouble executing and scoring offensively. We grind it out. It’s not the prettiest basketball in the world but we’re a good hard-nosed team that plays to end when we have to.
“We have a hard time getting to 40 points but we’re hold teams in the 30s,” Palazzesi said. “If we get into the 40s we have a good shot at it.”
Canton beat Somers in January, 52-41, to begin a seven-game winning streak. The Warriors also beat Somers a week ago in the NCCC Tournament, 47-40. So, there were few secrets about each other.
Powell had seven points in the first quarter for the Warriors with Ben Cuniowski and Benedetti each adding four as Canton led 15-11 after one quarter. A foul shot with 5:31 left in the second quarter gave Canton a five point lead, 16-11.
Neither team was too successful shooting the ball Somers took the lead thanks to a six-point run fueled by Maia, who hit a jumper in the lane, drained a three-pointer with 2:33 left in the quarter and hit a foul shot to put Somers up by two, 18-16.
Four points in the final 3.7 seconds by Somers gave the Spartans a six-point halftime lead, 22-16.
To open the third quarter, Canton outscored Somers 9-3 to pull within a point, 25-24 with 5:03 remaining in the quarter. Powell had seven of the nine points with Benedetti getting two after pulling down an offensive rebound and putting it back into the basket.
But the Warriors made a few turnovers, missed some shots and Somers outscored Canton 8-0 over a span of 3:23 to take a nine-point lead, 33-24. Canton would get no closer than five points for the remainder of the game.
Somers advances to face No. 2 Wamogo on Thursday in Litchfield in the second round while Canton packs up the equipment for the season.
Somers 45, Canton 38
Somers (45) Cody Ferrera 4-1-11, Troy Maia 4-6-15, Trevor Gentile 0-0-0, Colby McCormick 3-0-6, Braden Davis 3-0-7, Eric Renzoni 0-0-0, Jack Olearek 1-0-2, Jacob Yvon 1-2-4. Totals 16-9-45
Canton (38) Taylor Kim 0-0-0, Khalil Thomas 0-2-2, Ben Cuniowski 3-1-7, Brandon Powell 9-2-23, Jake Dean 0-0-0, Matthew Benedetti 2-2-6, Ryan Cuniowski 0-0-0, Jayden Young 0-0-0. Totals 14-7-38
Somers (13-10) 11 11 11 12 — 45
Canton (13-10) 15 1 10 12 — 38
Three-point goals: Powell (Ca) 3, Ferrera (S) 2, Maia (S), Davis (S)