Darien boys basketball team falls short at home against Westhill
With five days off during the holiday break, Westhill boys basketball coach Howard White spent most of Monday's practice preparing his team mentally as much as physically for the following day's game with Darien.
"I wanted to make sure they were ready to play," White said. "I wanted them to show some fire."
White might as well have been looking into a wood-brick oven, as the Vikings made 12 of 17 shots and forced six turnovers to jump out to a double-digit lead after the first quarter.
There was no let up, with Westhill starting the new calendar year with an impressive 72-47 road win Tuesday night.
White, usually a harsh critic, could find little to be unhappy about.
"We were moving the ball and we didn't give them a chance to react to anything," White said. "We played very good defense and that's something we've been capable of doing. We did it in the preseason and we did it in scrimmages. We hadn't been going after loose balls but we were really hustling tonight."
Center Sam Dorissaint was unstoppable inside, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. He brought the crowd to its feet with resounding dunks on consecutive possessions early in the final quarter following passes from point guard Tony Dobbinson.
"Tony did a good job," White said. "What Tony did was penetrate and when he had it hit the open shot."
Dobbinson. one of the league's premier players, added 14 points and 10 assists.
"As soon as the game started we wanted to play hard and get as many steals as possible," Dobbinson said. "The key was playing together. Everyone moved the ball and we were all looking for each other."
Aaron Young finished with 12 points and Romario Narine had 11 for the Vikings (3-2, 2-1 FCIAC), who have a key rematch at home Friday against Bassick.
Of all the numbers that showed the disparity in play, the one that really pleased White -- and was probably part of the reason Darien coach Kyle Marian met with his players for 20 minutes after the game -- was his team attempted just one free throw.
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"We didn't show up with the intent of winning the basketball game," Marian said. "We showed up with the intent of let's see where we are, and you are not going to win like that. We had a win against Stamford Academy and we lost a tough one to Greenwich. We needed to build off of that and we stayed stagnant. You have to handle pressure better than we did."
The news emanating off the court for the Vikings Tuesday was much more interesting than what transpired on it. Forward Chris Walters, who is recovering from a torn meniscus, is back practicing with the team and was taking shots in street clothes with his teammates at halftime. At first White ruled Walters out for Bassick, which defeated Westhill by 26 points on Dec. 26, but suffered its first loss on Tuesday, in overtime against Danbury.
Then White grew coy and said he would wait and make a definite decision later in the week. Meanwhile, Tyrell Middleton will start practicing today after sustaining a broken leg.
And in the most revelatory news of the night, White said that Westhill has turned in additional paperwork requested by the CIAC in the case of Antwaun Boyd, whose petition to gain a fifth year of eligibility was denied three weeks ago. White said he is holding out hope for a reversal and hopes to hear something this week.
Throw those three pieces into the Vikings' arsenal and they go from a strong team to potential championship contender.
"Right now we are just worrying about Bassick," Dobbinson said. "Not many people believe we can beat them, but you have to have faith. We have to get back at them."