WILTON — Nine days later than the rest of the state, the Wilton boys basketball team finally made its debut this afternoon. Withstood was a two-week pause due to a coronavirus breakout at the school after the second day of practice and postponements the past two days due to the weather.
So there were many valid reasons to overlook an incomplete performance since the Warriors got the desired outcome, a 46-40 home win over Norwalk.
“If we played great today it wouldn’t have been what we wanted,” Wilton coach Joel Geriak said. “We’re just not ready yet. It was the first time we’ve seen a team other than ourselves. Still trying to get an idea, which is why I rotated so many kids, to find out who can do stuff. Just trying to find out where we are as a team.”
The biggest bright spot was the defense, especially a 1-3-1 zone, which forced the Bears into 19 turnovers and made it an effort to get good looks.
“The defense played well,” Geriak said. “We did what we wanted with them defensively, keep them in the 30s and 40s. Those are our goals.”
But that was offset by the Warriors, a live-by-the-3 team in recent seasons, making just 37 percent of their shots — and that was after an improved second half. And after taking a 14-point lead off a basket by Josh White following a steal with 3:53 left, Wilton was held scoreless for 3:28. Norwalk ran off eight straight points and almost got the deficit within one possession.
“We barely got a fall league, we had two weeks where are season got postponed,” White said. “We haven’t even played a lot yet. It showed in that first half, the silly mistakes and bad passes. And some plays we didn’t run correctly. That will all change.”
White ended up with 14 points to lead the Warriors. Jimmy McKiernan finished with 8 and Parker Woodring added 7.
But the Warriors are not going to achieve their goals — and they are lofty — by playing games in the 40s, especially with a guard-heavy roster and little height.
“We got some good looks on offense, and the people I want shooting it are shooting it,” Geriak said. “We just didn’t get the shots to fall tonight. I think that’s preseason, not getting the speed of the game. We’re smaller this year. The past few years we had a little size. This year we have no size at all so we have to adjust our team.”
Wilton was ice cold in the first half but scored the final seven points as part of a 10-0 run to go up by 11.
“I thought at the end of the first half is where we really struggled,” Norwalk coach Matt Whelan said. “They played real tough there for a stretch.”
The Bears (1-2) were at their best in the closing minutes, when the outcome seemed determined. They were 3 for 6 from the line, missing the front ends of two one-and-ones, or they might have put the Warriors in a must-respond situation.
“I was pleased when they got it to 14 our kids kept fighting,” Whelan said. “We did have a fighting change toward the end. We had enough of a chance where if we made a couple of plays… You don’t want to be playing from behind against a team like that. They have a lot of guys that can handle, a lot of guys that can shoot. They’re going to space the floor and they’re not going to beat themselves.”
Nate Schir scored all of his 15 points, including four 3-pointers, in the second half. Cam Edwards added 12 points.
“It was so fun getting out there,” White said. “We have nine seniors this year. We want to go with a bang. Even though we only won by six we wanted to make this a statement game. We didn’t come out how we wanted to. Not a lot of shots fell. We’re going to get back to practice and you’re going to see the best team in the FCIAC coming out.”