GUILFORD >> If the Southern Connecticut Conference is as deep as some coaches believe it truly is, there will be some fierce matchups in the league tournament.
“I think if you take away the top four or five teams and get down in the middle, I think it’s as deep as its been in a long, long time,” veteran Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano said. “And the top is pretty darn good.”
Guilford would desperately like to host a first-round game and be one of the survivors into the quarterfinals, then roll the dice from there. To do that, the Indians needed Friday’s game against Sheehan.
Thanks to superior inside play, Guilford got the win. Noah Rubino led four players in double figures with 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Indians won at home 74-61.
“We have lofty goals and we needed this game,” Guilford coach Jeff DeMaio said. “Next week is a huge week for us.”
Rubino scored the first five points of the second half and assisted on the next basket to put Guilford (11-4) up 37-25. Guilford ended up shooting 10 of 13 from the floor in the third period, putting up 26 points.
The Titans (8-8) never really threatened after that.
“Defense is our big thing. As long as we play tough defense, our offense is the best it has been in a while,” Rubino said. “During halftime, Coach told us we had to keep going inside. Whether it was a layup inside or a kick outside to one of our shooters, once we get it inside and then outside, that’s when our offense starts rolling.”
Said Gaetano: “They gave us a lot of trouble defensively tonight. We had trouble running our offense.”
Point guard Jordan Krause finished with 16 points for the Indians despite spending a good portion of the game on the floor in foul trouble. Matt Donlan and Sam Dombroski added 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Friday’s rematch lacked the drama of the first game three weeks ago. Kyle Brennan hit a three-quarter court shot before the final buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime, where Sheehan won it at home.
“That was definitely a big loss for us,” Rubino said. “We took it as a personal-type thing, came back harder, stronger. This was a revenge-type game for us. We wanted this bad, not just for our seniors, but for us to get another win toward SCCs and states.”
Brennan scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. But he wasn’t the high scorer — that fell to another senior.
Sam DeMaio scored a career-high 19 points, including five three-pointers. Yes, he is Jeff DeMaio’s son. On Guilford’s Senior Night — it was the last home game unless the Indians do host in the SCCs — the team honored the Sheehan seniors. Father and son gave each other a bear hug at midcourt.
Then Sam went out, fought off screens and burned the Indians from deep. But it wasn’t enough this time.
I’ll be on him tonight,” Jeff said. “I will try to give it to him. Then he will come back and want to watch the film with me where he hit those threes.”
GUILFORD 74, SHEEHAN 61
Sheehan 9 14 18 20 – 61
Guilford 13 17 26 18 – 74
Kyle Brennan 7 3-3 18, Sam Demaio 5 4-4 19, Caden Cloutier 1 0-0 3, Ethan Fox 2 0-2 4, Eli Dryer 2 0-0 4, Roman Jagrosse 0 2-2 2, Brett Gill 3 2-3 8, Matt Ottochian 1 0-0 3. Totals: 21 11-14 61
Sam Dombroski 4 5-12 13, Ian Slattery 3 0-0 7, Jordan Krause 5 6-7 16, Matt Donlan 6 0-0 15, Noah Rubino 7 5-7 19, Nick Zoarski 1 0-0 2, Greg Sullivan 1 0-0 2, Colin Kellaher 0 0-1 0. Totals: 27 16-27 74
3-point goals: Sheehan 8 (Brennan 1, Demaio 5, Cloutier 1, Ottochian 1); Guilford 4 (Slattery 1, Donlan 3); Records: Sheehan 8-8; Guilford 11-4