MILFORD — Jonathan Law’s flawless start to season continued on Friday night when crosstown rival Foran traveled to Richetelli Gymnasium in a Southern Connecticut Conference grudge match.
The cagey Lions hung tough, but in the end the surging Lawmen had too many answers in posting a 69-55 victory to move to 10-0.
Law reeled off a 17-7 run to close out the contest, with junior guard Jon Vitale serving as the catalyst to the game-clinching flurry. Vitale, who scored all of his game-high 18 points in the second half, showed off his combination game in a sequence that helped Law fend off the Lions’ fourth-quarter upset bid.
With 6:16 left to play, Foran’s Tyler Griffin made one of two from the line to trim Law’s lead to 48-46.
Vitale then dropped in a layup on the other end, off of a crisp Diontae Eady assist, before stealing the ball in the backcourt. Vitale converted that layup too, pushing Law’s edge to 52-46.
“I just happened to be the one open,” Vitale said. “It was the movement of the ball.”
Jason Giambra, who had 14 points, muscled one home for Foran (4-8) with 5:25 left to play, but the Lions failed to get closer than four points the rest of the way.
Vitale’s 3-pointer with 3:22 remaining extended the margin to 61-50 and it stayed in double figures.
“They have two really good guards and it makes them hard to stop at times,” Foran head coach Ian Kirkpatrick said of Vitale and Eady. “The effort was there, but unfortunately we couldn’t get stops down the stretch when we needed them.”
Offensive balance was crucial for Law, which is off to it’s best start in nearly three decades according to head coach Jamie Anderson — who was a standout player on that Lawmen team.
“We’re not going to wow anybody with our depth, our athleticism,” Anderson said. “Every guy, no agendas. We pick each other up. We get a couple steals, a couple layups. It’s really consistent across the board… We shuffle a lot of guys in there, so it’s our style.”
Eady, who scored 25 points in Law’s 72-34 win over Foran in December, was more of a facilitator this time around, but still finished with 18 markers.
Zane Birks added 17 points and Tyler McKenna-Hansen chipped in with nine.
Brian Felag’s baseline layup at the buzzer, off of an Eady assist, gave Law a 28-25 halftime advantage.
After the teams traded 3-pointers in the early going, the Lawmen fell behind 18-13 when Michael Simonelli (14 points) dropped in a runner with 1:42 left in the first quarter.
“He’s a fiery competitor,” Kirkpatrick said of Simonelli. “He was asked to do a lot tonight, he was put in some big spots and responded. That’s all I can ask from a sophomore guard.”
Those were the last of Foran’s points, until Giambra’s putback of a missed Simonelli free throw with 1:25 remaining in the half.
Over a span of 8:17, Law regained the lead with a 12-0 run, capped by a pair of Eady free throws.
The Lawmen then used another strong defensive sequence, featuring steals by Eady and Birks, to put the game away in the fourth quarter with their decisive run.
“Our defense in the second half was just ridiculous,” Vitale said.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jon Vitale: Vitale scored all 18 of his points in the second half. His three-pointer gave Law a double-digit lead it never gave up.
“We’re not going to wow anybody with our depth, our athleticism,” Anderson said. “Every guy, no agendas. We pick each other up. We get a couple steals, a couple layups. It’s really consistent across the board.”
JONATHAN LAW 69, FORAN HIGH 55
Zane Birks 8 0-0, 17 Jimmy Coleman 0 0-0, 0 Tyler McKenna-Hansen 4 1-2, 9 Antonio Brown 0 0-0, 0 Diontae Eady 7 4-7, 18 Justice Smith 0 0-0, 0 Jon Vitale 6 4-6, 18 Brian Felag 1 0-0, 2 Noah Tutlis 1 2-2, 5
Totals: 27 11-17 69
Michael Simonelli 6 0-5, 14 Ethan McVoy 1 0-0, 3 Richard Prosser 1 0-0, 3 Aidan Deschaine 0 0-0, 0 Anthony Davis 3 0-1, 8 Tyler Griffin 1 1-2, 3 John Shannon 4 0-0, 10 Todd Harris 0 0-0, 0 Luca Marinelli 0 0-0, 0 Jason Giambra 6 2-6, 14 Christian Piscitelli 0 0-0, 0
Totals: 22 3-14 55
Foran 18 7 16 14—55
Law 17 11 15 26—69
3-pointers: L—Birks 1, Vitale 2, N. Tutlis 1; F—Simonelli 2, McVoy 1, Prosser 1, Davis 2, Shannon 2