NEW BRITAIN >> No. 12 Weaver swallowed No. 1 Lewis Mills 89-33 on the way to a Beaver return to the Mohegan Sun Wednesday night in a Class M semifinal at New Britain High School.
Mills, the Berkshire League runner-up, shook off the small-school conference jinx in the quarterfinals in a convincing win against the NVL’s St. Paul, then ran into the same kind of buzz saw that felled BL champion Terryville in Class S — a team that fought and beat the big dogs in the regular season.
The Beavers have had a memorable season already. They forfeited two early games in the CCC for fielding an ineligible player, lost their coach over the incident and carried on with a coach, Reggie Hatchett, who had a total of five JV games under his coaching belt before taking over.
It was the best thing that could have happened to them.
“It changed our season,” said Hatchett before Wednesday’s game. “As a new coach, I started playing our younger guys. Our best players are all freshmen and sophomores and they bring us more scoring options and a faster pace.”
Thursday, the proof was part of a painful experience for the Spartans.
“We heard a lot about their press, but it didn’t bother us,” said Mills coach Todd Kozak. “In the first quarter, we had five opportunities to take the ball to the hoop against it and we settled for outside shots.”
Meanwhile, the Spartans got to the semis with pretty good defense of their own.
“Our half-court defense is our bread and butter,” said Kozak. “They just shot our lights out.”
Despite the horrific 31-6 score at the end of the first quarter, Mills held its own in the opening minutes except for the shooting.
The Spartans couldn’t make any of those outside shots; Weaver couldn’t miss.
Weaver sophomore KeAndre Fair opened the scoring with a layup. Then 6-foot-5 sophomore forward/center Mike Medlin (19 points, four 3s), senior captain Josh Jones(19 points, three 3s) and Fair (game-high 20 points, three 3s) hammered in three treys in a row.
The string reached five when Medlin came outside for two more surrounding his two foul shots.
With two minutes left in the first period, the score was 24-4 and the Weaver press began to tell.
Mills senior Alexander Daigle (team-high 15 points), a 6-foot-3 forward, scored Mills’ first 10 points. Everyone else seemed dazed by the Weaver exhibition
“We didn’t play scared, but I knew we were in trouble when (Medlin) hit his first three,” said Coach Kozak. (Fair and Jones) are enough; you can’t get out and guard all three.”
“We usually make eight or 10 threes, but (Medlin) comes and goes,” said Coach Hatchett. “”When he’s hot, he’s hot.”
Medlin was hot and so, seemingly, was everyone else in a green uniform while the Spartans, led by Daigle and Spencer Maloney (10 points) found the target late or not at all.
The results piled up worse and worse for Mills: 46-17 at the half, 73-29 after three.
Coach Kozak, in his third year, sees a five-year “window of opportunity” with the talent he has coming down the pike at Mills.
“A Berkshire League team made it to the Class M semifinals; we want to come back,” he said.
Weaver moved up to Class M after making the Class S finals last year.
“Ironically, a lot of those guys aren’t playing this year,” said Coach Hatchett, “but these guys were watching from the bench.”
The Beavers line up against East Catholic-Manchester, a team they beat 76-74 in the regular season.
Who will win the Class LL girls volleyball championship?
No. 10 Amity (17-5)
No. 12 Darien (17-6)
Total Response: 158 Votes
Weaver 89 Lewis Mills 33
At New Britain
Weaver 31 15 27 16 – 89
Lewis Mills 6 11 12 4 – 33
Weaver (89): Ashon Avent 0-0-0; Jaecee Martin 2-5-9; Mike Medlin 6-3-19; KeAndre Fair 7-3-20; Chaylynn Martin 2-1-5; Josh Jones 7-2-19; Robert Harrison 1-1-3; Joaquin Figueroa 0-0-0; Nick Meadows 2-0-4; Sly Williams 1-0-2; Willie James 1-1-3; Ray Harris 0-1-1; Jaquan Williams 0-0-0; Pishon Powell 0-0-0; Chris Higgins 2-0-4. Totals: 31-17-89.
Lewis Mills: (33): Justin Pease 0-0-0; Alexander Daigle 7-0-15; Danny Kryzanski 1-0-2; Max Wadington 1-0-3; Trevor Baker 0-0-0; Spencer Maloney 3-3-10; Daniel Wilcox 0-1-1; Ben Lewis 0-0-0; Nate Cook 0-2-2; Zach Ventres 0-0-0. Totals: 12-6-33.
3 – point goals: W – Medlin 4; Fair 3; Jones 3. LM – Daigle; Wadington; Maloney.
Records: Weaver 16-8; Lewis Mills 20-5.