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Glastonbury Rallies for Big Road Win - TheSportsDept.com

Glastonbury Rallies for Big Road Win

By Danny Atkinson

EAST LYME – Glastonbury found itself in crisis mode midway through the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game at East Lyme as it took a timeout. The Tomahawks trailed 42-33 with 3:32 remaining in the third against one of the best teams and players in the state (Dev Ostrowski), with the Vikings on a 9-1 run. They had led most of the game. In addition, Glastonbury was missing second leading scorer Cam Stiepock to injury. Despite the tough circumstances, Glastonbury was going to stay focused, and take the necessary steps to launch a memorable comeback and earn a signature nonconference win.

The Tomahawks ran a more varied and efficient offense with its shots spread out, and constantly get to the free throw line for the remainder of the third quarter. It took a 50-49 lead at the end after senior guard Aaron Latham made each free throw after being fouled on a free-point attempt. The offense continued its high level of play in the fourth with the help of East Lyme’s inability to avoid fouling, while Glastonbury’s defense made just enough stops and forced Viking turnovers and offensive fouls. Following a gorgeous three by Latham with 3:39 remaining, GHS ended the game on a 15-9 run, giving the Tomahawks (10-3) a 73-67 victory.

“We just didn’t panic. They’re going to make runs with a kid as good as Ostrowski, and we didn’t panic (on offense) and took more of a concerted focus to getting the ball inside to Jack (Shea,)” head coach Jack Vaughan said. “We focused more on going inside because Jack’s a great player and we had a height advantage, and everyone picked up the slack.”  

“Being able to make such a comeback is a testament to our age. We have a lot of seniors who have been in this position before and handled it. A lot of guys stepped up down the stretch and made big plays,” said Jack, a senior himself.

While Vaughan mentioned Jack Shea first, Latham was the leader of the offense in the final 11:32. In the last stretch of the third, he hit a jumper and two free throws at the 42.4 mark to put GHS up 47-46, while Jack scored on a put back and his junior brother Tom earned a basket off a steal. In rallying to take the lead, the players did a better job of passing the ball quickly and reversing it from side to side, making it easier for them to go inside and force defenders out of position. This helped lead to not only made baskets but fouls, which became even more frequent in the fourth. The Tomahawks also began to handle the ball better and avoid poor passes that lead to turnovers, which hindered the offense in the opening two and a half quarters.

In the final minutes of the third, Ostrowski ensured that East Lyme kept pace with Glastonbury. The senior guard, who finished with 42 points, scored the team’s final eight points of the quarter, including a three-point play and jumper. Tomahawk defenders were overmatched by him almost the entire game, as Ostrowski showed great athleticism and shooting ability.

Nate Diaz immediately gave the Vikings the lead back on their first play of the fourth quarter by knocking down an open three. Their inability to play quality defense without following was immediately seen, however, as Latham was again fouled on a three-point attempt. He nailed each shot, putting Glastonbury up 53-52 a minute in.

The teams exchanged shots for the next few minutes. After Ostrowski nailed a pull-up jumper, Tom Shea converted a three-point play inside, showing nice athleticism. Guard Luke Leonard stole a pass and tied the score on a layup two possessions later, but senior forward Freddie Thomas was almost immediately then fouled with 4:54 left. Thomas made two free throws on three opportunities to give the Tomahawks a 58-56 lead, benefiting from a Vikings lane violation. Ostrowski again beat defenders on a driving layup. Latham gave his squad the lead for good with the aforementioned three from the right corner at 3:39, being open for just a second.

The defense stepped up as well in the next two possessions for GHS, denying two good scoring opportunities in the paint. After Ostrowski hit yet another jumper, Jack Shea again beat a defender inside and Latham scored off a layup, making the lead 65-60 with just under three minutes left.

East Lyme would not go quietly, however. With the defense focusing on Ostrowski, Leonard stepped up and hit a layup and then two free throws to cut the deficit to 66-64. Senior guard Andrew Sullivan hit a free throw with 1:30 left, and then the defense again held the Vikings scoreless on a crucial possession, defending the ball well.

The final minute plus was a series of Tomahawks free throws and rushed shots by East Lyme, with GHS executing well enough on both ends to ensure the 73-67 win.

Jack Shea had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Thomas 11 points for Glastonbury in addition to Latham’s 26. Leonard earned 13 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Tomahawks ability to push the ball inside and challenge defenders was exhibited in their remarkable 46 free throw attempts. They made 32 attempts, over 70 percent. The Vikings took just 13 free throws.

“I couldn’t be more pleased (with the effort),” Vaughan said. “I think everyone who played did their jobs well.”

Vaughan praised the team’s overall defensive effort, particularly on Ostrowski, who was held scoreless in the concluding minutes.

“Ostrowski is very tough to stop, and we just wanted to make every shot he took be a hard shot. For the most part, we did that. Tommy Shea and Freddie Thomas were both great on him. They gave us a little advantage because they’re 6-3. 6-4 and can move their feet well. It’s a nice luxury to have.”

Glastonbury’s did a quality job of rebounding, especially in the second half. The Tomahawks work on the boards limited East Lyme’s shots and any second-chance points, while getting a few for themselves.

With the win, Glastonbury has now won six of its last seven games. It moved up to fourth in the CCC standings and third in the state’s Division II standings as of the 24th. These last four wins have been on the road.

Vaughan and Jack Shea each oozed confidence while discussing the significance of defeating East Lyme and the momentum it can provide the team.   

“It’s a big win and I’m very proud. These guys were in the state semis last year and played in a lot of big games. They don’t shrink from the moment. Sometimes they don’t play as well as they should (laughs), but they don’t shrink.”

“This is a huge win against a really good team. It’s going to be a long ride home, but at least we go with a win. We can hopefully keep this going in the next few games starting Friday.”

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