Glastonbury falls in semifinals

By Adam Betz

WEST HARTFORD – The Glastonbury boys basketball team made a remarkable turnaround after a disappointing and losing campaign last season. The No. 6 seeded Tomahawks advanced all the way to the CIAC Division II tournament semifinals before finally falling to No 2 Immaculate, 48-43 Wednesday night at the University of Hartford.

Glastonbury (18-7) had a chance to tie the score in the final seconds, but a three-point attempt by junior Aaron Latham missed and Immaculate (21-5) was able to seal the victory at the free throw line.

“After the Wethersfield game, I said to anyone that would listen that we are a year ahead of where I thought we’d be,” said Glastonbury Head Coach Jim Vaughan. “I knew we’d be very good next year if everything comes together. But we got so much better through the course of the season. It’s a credit to them for listening, putting the work in, and playing together.”

Throughout the first quarter Glastonbury’s defense kept Immaculate from getting the ball inside the three-point line. As the Mustangs had to rely on outside shooting, Glastonbury handled the game on the inside, gathering rebound after rebound on the offensive end.

A hot start from the field gave the Tomahawks a 9-6 lead. It wasn’t until there was less than a minute left in the quarter that Immaculate was able to get in a rhythm offensively. Glastonbury was able to do enough defensively to hold the Mustangs to 10 first-quarter points. The Tomahawks took a 13-10 lead into the second quarter.

Immaculate started the second quarter with a 9-0 run to storm into the lead. Senior Isaiah Payton scored seven of the nine for Immaculate. After a Glastonbury timeout, Latham hit a three-pointer to bring the score to 19-16.

Glastonbury junior Aaron Latham almost stole the ball but was knocked down on the play. No foul was called, and Immaculate’s Michael Basile scored. On the other end, Latham had a chance at the free-throw line to trim the deficit. Latham missed both shots. As the Mustangs were bringing the ball up court, junior Jack Shea was able to steal the ball. Latham missed the layup at the buzzer, and Glastonbury trailed 21-19 going into the halftime break.

Latham opened the second half with a quick layup. Like they had done all game, the Mustangs took their time on every possession; crossing half-court with seconds to spare before violations, creating long possessions before shooting.

The slow down tactics frustrated Vaughan.

“I think we need a shot clock in Connecticut high school basketball, to be honest with you,” Vaughan said. “But give Immaculate credit. They are a hell-of-a guarding, well-coached team. They played well.”

Glastonbury went cold from the field in the third quarter. Numerous empty possessions, coupled with the Mustang’s makes, stretched Immaculate’s lead to 31-21 with two minutes left in the quarter.

A visibly upset Vaughan called timeout. The first message to his team was throwing his clipboard to the floor.

Coming out of the timeout, Latham hit a big three-point basket to cut the deficit to seven. An Immaculate travel on the next possession gave Glastonbury another chance to cut into the deficit. A foul was called on Payton, leading to Immaculate’s first substitution of the game. Latham hit another shot, bringing the score to 31-26 with 23.4 left in the quarter.

Latham, who finished the game with 17 points, scored all seven points for Glastonbury in the quarter.

Immaculate put three more points on the board to close the quarter with a 34-26 lead.

Two quick buckets for Glastonbury to begin the quarter brought the game to four points. As the final quarter progressed, Glastonbury’s foul trouble caught up with them. At the same time, Immaculate struggled from the foul line. Payton, Doherty and Jack Woods went a combined 3 for 8 from the line, keeping the Tomahawks in the game.

With 2:50 left and his team trailing 39-31, Latham was fouled shooting a three. He missed the first two free throws but was able to hit the third.

Shea came up big defensively for Glastonbury late in the game. He was able to steal the ball, and call timeout before a jump -ball was called. On the inbound, Shea was fouled. After a brief break while a bleeding Shea was tended to, he hit both free throws, bringing the score to 39-35 with under 2:30 to play.

The teams traded buckets and free throws down the stretch, but in the end, it was Immaculate that was able to hang on for the victory. Shea finished the game with 10 points. Doherty fled the Mustangs with 13.

A drained Vaughan had numerous things going through his mind after the game.

“A lot of different things. Number one how proud of these guys I am. “Number two how tired I am,” Vaughan said with a laugh. “I guess all of those things at once.”

As for next year, Vaughan has lofty expectations for his team.

“No. Not maintain,” Vaughan said. “We’ll be better.”

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