BRIDGEPORT -- The New Canaan boys basketball team had to wait eight games before 6-foot-5 junior center Zach Allen was ready to come back from an injury he suffered while helping the Rams capture a state title.
"He has something wrong with his shoulder and he had to let it heal. He has a couple of scholarships on the line," New Canaan head coach Mike Evans said. "He made the right decision to let it heal before coming back."
Ironically enough, the Rams might have waited just a bit too long to get Allen's big body on the floor, allowing Bassick to hold on for a 62-50 victory Tuesday night in a game that was much closer than the final score might indicate.
Allen didn't get off the bench until the final minute of the first half, but when he did, the entire complexion of the game changed.
Bassick (5-2 overall, 4-2 FCIAC) dominated the first 15 minutes behind the junior guard tandem of Kobe Ancrum and Curhone Baldwin and the physical inside play of Carl Brown (10 rebounds) and sophomore Keon Evans, helping the Lions take an early 19-7 lead before extending the advantage to 39-21 late in the second quarter.
Allen quickly got the Rams back in the game with seven straight points spanning the second and third quarters, pumping in nine of New Canaan's 11 points in the third. Allen then scored New Canaan's first seven points of the fourth, including a nice right-handed hook shot with 4:20 left to whittle Bassick's lead down to 48-41.
Allen finished with a game-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and two blocks.
But the Rams didn't have enough time or energy to make up the deficit as Bassick kicked its engine into third gear, used an 8-1 run to take a 56-42 lead and never looked back.
"He's a big presence in there," Evans said of Allen. "He brings a lot of intensity and passion and fire to the floor. But we had a plan and we were sticking to it."
New Canaan (2-6 overall, 2-4 FCIAC) was determined to stop Ancrum and Baldwin, who make up one of the top backcourts in the FCIAC, using a smaller lineup to counter Bassick's speed and defensive pressure.
But the pair still ended up hurting the Rams. Baldwin finished with a team-high 16 points, including two 3-pointers and a 6-for-12 effort at the foul line. Baldwin also pulled down eight rebounds while Ancrum collected 10 points, three steals and three rebounds. Sophomore guard Rajohn James added 15 points and four rebounds.
"The plan was to get out on their shooters and we didn't do it very well," Evans said. "We could have done it a lot better."
New Canaan's game plan played right into Bassick's strength and away from its weakness -- its muscle in the paint.
"We've had problems with the big guys," Bassick head coach Bernie Lofton said. "Our big guy (Evans) is only a sophomore, but he's getting better. We're not young, but we are inexperienced. It's a culture shock for most of these guys."Read Full Article
Bassick tried to fight size with size after Allen took over the game, giving sophomore Andrew Stephenson and junior Keante Smith a shot at plugging the dike. When that failed, the Lions went back to their own small lineup to put the game out of reach late in the fourth.
"We went to our fast lineup, which is five guards, and that's tough to match up with," Lofton said. "We get up and down the court faster, we rotate well on the press, and it seems like the ball moves faster and we share it better with that lineup."
New Canaan was looking to get the ball into the hands of Claude Chardonnet, and that worked early on with the junior scoring eight points over the first 10 minutes, including one 3-pointer. But Bassick clamped down on Chardonnet after that, holding him to just two points the rest of the night.
"We wanted to make him work hard for his shots because the scouting report I got from Harding was that he's a knock-down shooter," Lofton said. "That was our game plan, to take him out of the game and make him work hard."
After the way Allen played in his season debut, New Canaan is bound to rethink its offensive philosophy.
"Our formula will change," Evans said.
Bassick reached the bonus early in the first half and ended up getting 36 attempts at the foul line, making 21 of them. That certainly didn't help New Canaan's game plan.
"That changes everything," said Evans, whose team went 9-for-15 from the line. "It stops the game. It lets them score without time expiring. It killed us."
Sophomore Kyle Smith finished with eight points to go along with nine rebounds for New Canaan.
bassick 62, new canaan 50
NEW CANAAN (2-6, 2-4 FCIAC)
Kyle Smith 3 2-2 8 Claude Chardonnet 4 1-1 10 Paul Hagopian 2 2-4 6 Erik Jager 0 0-0 0 Beau Santero 1 0-0 2 Andrew Penchuk 0 1-3 1 Carsten Berger 0 1-2 1 Zach Allen 9 2-3 20 Tyler Sweeney 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 9-15 50.
BASSICK (5-2, 4-1)
Kobe Ancrum 4 2-4 10 Curhone Baldwin 4 6-12 16 Keon Evans 2 0-0 4 Carl Brown 0 3-6 3 Rajohn James 4 6-8 15 Ted Colas 2 1-1 5 Malik Massey 1 2-2 4 Brandon Hilario 0 1-2 1 Mykell Stinson 0 0-0 0 Keante Smith 1 0-1 2 Andrew Stephenson 1 0-0 2 Davonte Whitehurst 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 21-36 62.
NEW CANAAN 9 14 11 16--50
BASSICK 19 20 13 16--62
3-pointers: NC--Chardonnet; B--Baldwin 2, James. Fouled out: NC--Chardonnet.