BRANFORD — With a Class L state tournament berth in its back pocket, it’s now all about seeding for the Branford boys’ basketball team.
And the Hornets improved their seeding a little Friday night with a 62-41 Southern Connecticut Conference Oronoque Division victory over North Haven at the James MacVeigh Alumni Athletic Complex.
“Once you get in to it, you want to put yourself in the best position you can,” Branford coach Jake Palluzzi said. “Now we have to dig down and sacrifice for the commitment, as we call it. We have to finish strong.”
Branford qualified for the state tournament Tuesday night with a 59-36 win over East Haven and Friday’s victory pushes its record to 4-2 in the Oronoque Division and 9-7 overall.
The Hornets raced out to a 16-5 lead after the first quarter Friday night and led 26-10 at the half.
“We want to get out early and I’d like to make it easier,” Palluzzi said. “But it was an interesting week with the snow and you don’t get to practice and work on things you need to. Teams that are weaker have the advantage because they come in loose and you don’t know what you’ll get.”
North Haven committed too many turnovers and had trouble putting the ball in the basket in the first half.
“We struggled to put points on the board and didn’t have much in the energy department in the first half,” North Haven coach Pete Civitello said. “We let them build up the lead with two five-point quarters and that came back to hurt us. We don’t have that kind of firepower to cut into it.”
The third quarter was pretty much the same as Branford grabbed its biggest lead, 41-19, with 1:46 left in the quarter on a 3-pointer from the left corner by Jonathan Fuller, who had a game-high 17 points.
Besides Fuller, Restinel Lomotey and Alex King each had 14 points for Branford, while Corey Frost topped North Haven with 10 points.
North Haven fell to 2-13 with the loss, eliminating the Indians from any chance of qualifying for the Class L tournament.
“It’s always our goal every year to get in,” Civitello said. “Early in the year we played hard and lost to better teams. We just have to continue to play hard, but it’s turned out to be one of those years.”