Staples basketball holds off Darien in final seconds
Both the Staples and Darien boys basketball teams celebrated simultaneously at the final horn of their season opener on Tuesday night at Trumbull High School.
The Blue Wave thought they had completed a stunning comeback from four points down in the last 1.3 seconds on a potential game-tying 3-pointer by Zak Sweyte, but his foot was ruled to be on the line and the Wreckers were the ones able to celebrate longer than the fraction of a second that captured a dramatic contest.
Staples won its season-opener for a fourth straight season, this time a 44-43 decision over the Blue Wave. Wreckers juniors Ben Casparius, Justin Seideman and Sean Pritchett combined for 32 points, but it was a stand at the other end that earned the win.
“It’s going to be a great learning experience for us,” Wreckers coach Colin Devine said. “We have to learn from this and get better; I don’t know if last year we learned from our wins as much as we should have. … We’re lucky (Sweyte) only hit a (2-pointer).”
Darien’s Andrew Stueber was at the foul line and hit the first shot to pull to within 44-41. The Blue Wave called time out, and coach Charoy Bentley instructed Stueber to intentionally miss, setting up a possible ricochet for a game-tying 3.
“It was the perfect bounce,” Bentley said. “I told Stueber it has to be soft, but he actually threw it kind of hard. It worked out perfectly and we got the shot we wanted.”
It worked to perfection, but the Wreckers dodged an overtime bullet when the referee judged Swetye’s foot to have been on the line.
“It was actually a great look and Swetye actually nailed the shot but it was a 2,” Bentley said. “I was hoping it was a 3, but it was a 2.”
The Blue Wave jumped out to a 10-4 first-quarter lead and led by as many as eight points midway through the second quarter behind a 3-pointer from Jackson Ryan (eight points). Unable to finish off Staples, Darien allowed the Wreckers to creep to within five before half, and an 8-0 run to start the third quarter — which included a 3-pointer by Ben Casparius to give the Staples its first lead of the game at 25-22.
“We took our foot off the gas pedal a little bit and that really hurt us,” Bentley said. “We came out in the quarter really slow and it kept Staples in the game. When you keep good teams in the game they’ll find a way back.”
The Wreckers led 42-36 with three minutes left before the Blue Wave rallied.
Darien was led by center Alex Preston, who scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. After an aggressive Wreckers defense kept him at bay early, Preston scored five points in the last 2:29 to give his team a chance at overtime.
“We got him the ball more and got him in better situations to score or pass out of the post,” Bentley said. “He’s a good player and he know the game. Once we did that we were able to come back in the game a little bit.”
STAPLES 44, DARIEN 43
Ben Casparius 4 0-0 12 Justin Seideman 3 4-4 10 Sean Pritchett 2 8-9 10 Dylan Dreyfuss 1 0-1 3 Jared Vishno 2 3-4 7 Brendan Massoud 0 0-0 0 Thomas Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 15-18 44.
DARIEN 10 12 5 16—43
STAPLES 4 13 12 15—44
3-pointers: S—Casparius 4; D—Ryan 2, Sweyte 3.