NEW HAVEN – Hamden is not going to sneak by any team unnoticed this year. Not with the likes of C.J. Seaforth and a young trio led by sophomores Aidan Carpenter, Ronnie Ellis and Jaylen Ricks.
That mix of talent was on display at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven Thursday evening when the Green Dragons defeated Career 87-65 in the season opener for both teams.
“It is definitely a good start for us,” Seaforth said after finishing with 27 points. “We have some young guys coming in and they are with the starting five. We have three of the best sophomores in the area. They are very good. The key for us was to press at the beginning and get a good lead.”
Ricks finished the game with 17 points, including hitting all seven free throws he attempted. Ellis added 12 points for the Green Dragons.
Trailing by 10 points at the half, Career looked to get back into the contest by scoring the first six points of the third quarter, four from Tamar Williams. But, just as quickly as Career got within four points, was how fast Hamden pulled away for good.
“We just didn’t pay attention to detail,” Career coach Larry Kelley said after his team fell to 0-1. “We kept throwing the ball away. We did not dig down defensively. We did not play like we should have played. We are a lot better than that. We have to tap into our strengths.”
A 3-pointer by Carpenter was followed by buckets from Ellis and Ricks for a 47-36 Hamden lead. A pair of free throws by Ricks, a 3-pointer by Seaforth and a basket by sophomore Victor Rosario with 28 seconds to go in the third quarter sent the Green Dragons to the final quarte up 63-47.
“They (sophomores) are very athletic and very skilled,” Hamden coach Jarrad Beck said after his team improved to 1-0. “You get enamored with them, but we forget they are young. They can play well individually, but the key is to get everyone playing well as five.”
If Career was to make a run in the final quarter, it was quickly turned away when Hamden opened with a 7-3 run on a 3-pointer from Rosario and an electrifying dunk by Ellis for a 70-50 Hamden lead.
“They came back, but we were able to hit some big shots,” Beck said. “We did not come out with the same fire. But, we hit some shots and got going again.”
Seaforth made his presence felt in the first half as he poured in 17 points, including eight in a second quarter which saw the Green Dragons take a 10-point lead on a 21-15 run.
“We have been working hard,” Seaforth said. “We have three of the top sophomores in the area. We just have to keep pushing hard every day.”
Up by four points to start the second quarter following a bucket by Andrew Kirschenbaum with 30 seconds remaining in opening quarter, Hamden increased the lead to eight. Just under two minutes into the second quarter, Ellis popped in a bucket and Seaforth sank a pair of free throws to put the Green Dragons on top 23-15.
A 5-0 run by the Panthers, which was highlighted by a 3-pointer by Danny Ampofo and his two free throws, had Career within 28-22. Kirschenbaum sank a 3-pointer to extend Hamden’s margin to 36-26, before another 3-pointer by Ellis gave Hamden a 39-28 advantage,
Ellis and Ricks each had five points in the second quarter, which also saw the Green Dragons hit on four of six free throws.
Ampofo led Career with 20 points, while Anthony Calder had nine and Williams added eight.