It’s been an up and down season for the Darien High boys basketball team so far.
After a three-point season-opening win over Stratford, the Blue Wave dropped its next two games, won its last two contests of 2018, then began 2019 with back-to-back losses.
All of which left the DHS hoopsters with a 3-4 record heading into Thursday’s 7 p.m. home contest against Brien McMahon.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” head coach Charoy Bentley acknowledged Monday afternoon, a few hours before a tough 55-51 road loss to Trinity Catholic. “A lot of players are just getting back from injuries and we’re still trying to figure a lot of things out.
“We’re taking it day by day and game by game.”
The good news is Darien’s varsity roster has been slowly returning to health, which, Bentley hopes, will mean stringing some victories together.
“We’re getting everybody back so I’m happy about that,” the fifth-year head coach said. “It’s just about getting everybody on the same page. Our leaders have to step up and our coaches have to do their thing and we should be okay.”
One key player back in the lineup is senior tri-captain Will Rolapp, who missed the first three games with an ankle injury suffered during football season.
“He’s still trying to get into his rhythm,” Bentley said.
The six-foot Rolapp appears to be getting closer. In last Friday’s 67-51 loss to Greenwich, he led Darien with 12 points, nailing a pair of 3-pointers and sinking 6-of-12 free throws.
But just as the Blue Wave was close to getting back to full strength, Ryan Darby, one of the other tri-captains and the team’s leading scorer (12.4 ppg) injured his back in the Greenwich game. He missed the rest of that game as well as Monday’s narrow loss.
Meanwhile, Henry Williams, the third captain, has played every game and the 6-foot-4, 195-pound wing player tossed in 15 points in Darien’s 52-46 win over Weston Dec. 29. Darby added 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds in the victory.
“All three captains do a great job leading the team on and off the court,” Bentley, who hopes to have Darby back soon, said.
The win against Weston came one night after the Blue Wave nipped Bethel 51-50.
“It’s always good to into the (holiday) break with a couple wins,” Bentley said. “Usually, the week after the break is tough.”
Indeed, Darien went six days in between games and the rustiness showed in the loss to Greenwich. The Wave trailed only 27-23 at halftime before the Cardinals outscored DHS 21-6 in the third quarter to open up 48-29 advantage.
“We turned the ball over and they capitalized,” Bentley noted. “Greenwich is a real good team and anytime you turn the ball over against a good team that’s what happens.
“We made a little run toward the end of the game, but we were too far behind.”
On the bright side, Darien received another solid effort from freshman guard Miles Drake, who netted 11 points, including a trio of 3-pointers.
“Even though he’s a freshman, he doesn’t play like a freshman,” his coach said. “The nice thing about him is we have him for four years.
“He’s a tough kid who goes out there and plays hard whenever he’s on the court. Plus, he’s very coachable. He does whatever he’s asked to do and beyond. We have a lot of kids like that in our program.”
Like Peter Bredahl, a 6-2 senior who had nine points and a team-high three steals against Greenwich.
Sophomore James Mathus, who comes off the bench, is another player Bentley sees a bright future for.
“He’s a great kid off the court and a good player on the court who does a lot of good things for us,” Bentley said. “He’s the kind of kid every coach wants on their team.”
The loss to Trinity Catholic Monday was almost a carbon copy of the Greenwich game. In fact, Darien led at halftime 26-23, but the Blue Wave was again victimized by the third quarter as they were outscored by Crusaders 18-5 and trailed 41-31 entering the fourth period. A 19-13 spurt in the final eight minutes again proved to be too little, too late as Darien dropped its second four-point decision of the season.
But Bentley remains optimistic, especially once he has all his players healthy.
“We’re starting to get back in the flow of things,” he said. “We have a good mix and when we’re healthy, everybody plays their part. Henry [Williams] might have a good night one game and the next game Will Rolapp will do the scoring and then Ryan Darby.
“If we can put it altogether on the same night, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”