BRANFORD — After losing by 33 points to Fairfield Prep, the No. 1 team in the New Haven Register boys’ basketball poll, in the season opener two nights earlier, Branford bounced back with a 59-32 victory over Law Friday night at the James MacVeigh Alumni Athletic Complex.
The Hornets (1-1) erased an early six-point deficit with a 15-0 spurt to cruise to the victory.
“We’re happy to get one and move on,” Branford coach Jake Palluzzi said. “This was the first home game for some of the kids and after playing the best team in the state, we figure we’d be ready to go here at home.”
But Branford came out cold from the field, while Law (0-2) was hot at the beginning with Kevin Wall (14 points) and Dylan Vienneau (11 points) each scoring five in the opening quarter as the Eagles took a 14-8 lead with 45 seconds left in the quarter.
“We tried to do too much too early and we didn’t want to put ourselves in that position,” Palluzzi said. “If you do that, you put yourself at a disadvantage, especially against the schedule we play.”
It was the last points for the Lawmen for 6 1/2 minutes as Branford went on a 15-0 run as Restinel Lomotey scored seven of his game-high 20 points to spark the Hornets.
“We got off to a bad start,” Lomotey said. “They were hitting shots and we took them for granted.”
Law was able to close the game to 23-17 with 2:15 remaining in the first half, but that was the closest the Lawmen got the rest of the night.
“Branford is a solid team and when they start hitting shots, they are tough to beat,” Law coach Tim Dooley said. “We scored six points in the second quarter and couldn’t get a rebound. We just didn’t get it going again.”
That’s because Branford dominated the offensive glass. Lomotey was a bull on the glass as was Colin Tracy in getting the Hornets second and third chances at the rim.
“We knew we could dominate them on the boards,” Palluzzi said. “That was the key and getting the ball to the basket. We had to make it happen tonight after the first quarter, but we knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park like we thought tonight.”
Branford extended its lead throughout the second half as both Lomotey and Connor Stratton (11 points) were able to score from the floor. The Hornets took a 46-27 edge after three quarters and then Stratton score the first six Branford points of the final quarter.
“We’ve only had Lomotey and Stratton for the last week,” Palluzzi said. “Restinel has been out for a month with a groin injury and Connor with an ankle. They need time to get into a groove.”
For Law, Wall left the game late in the third quarter with a dislocated index finger on his right hand.
“The trainer said it wasn’t broken, but he was our best player,” Dooley said. “He’s our senior leader and we now have to dig deep.”