WINSTED >> In a matchup of key players in the Berkshire League, Gilbert (4-1) held a narrow lead over Nonnewaug (3-3) for most of the game at The Gilbert School Friday night, then pulled away in the final minutes for a 63-50 win.
“I think Terryville is a little above the crowd, but there are a lot of teams that will fight it out for second,” said Nonnewaug coach Tim Drakeley before his team proved the point with Gilbert.
The Chiefs lost their first two games of the season, to Lewis Mills and Northwestern, then reeled off three wins in a row on their way back to contention.
Gilbert slipped to Litchfield early this week.
So, while Terryville keeps proving they’re the best, including a 70-45 romp over Lewis Mills Friday, the number of contenders for second place keeps upping the ante for every game.
Gilbert and Nonnewaug scrambled just that way from the beginning on Friday — in fact, maybe too much.
“We’re very athletic, but we’ve got to learn to become basketball players,” said Gilbert coach Mark Douglass.
For the first minute-and-a-half, the frantic scramble of two running teams was too much for both teams.
Drakeley called a time out to settle his players, then senior guard Christian Metallo (14 points) pumped in the game’s first points, from outside the arc.
Gilbert’s Yoharkey Sarmiento (game-high 22 points) was right behind him with a skying layup, 3-2 Nonnewaug.
Both teams have athletes who look good with the running game. Gilbert just has more of them.
At this speed, both teams look great at times, not-so-good at others.
Gilbert point guard Anthony Gonzalez is one of players in the middle.
“It’s hard to take over for (graduated Gilbert star Robert Skinner),” said the quick junior.
Nevertheless, when the Yellowjackets play under control, it’s often Gonzalez’ hand, like Skinner’s last year, that holds the throttle.
“With some of those passes (from Gonzales) tonight, we’re taking steps in the right direction,” said Coach Douglass.
“My job is to penetrate and dish to my big guys,” said Gonzalez, darting all over the court on offense and defense.
His own first points, of 15 for the game, brought the early lead back to Gilbert on a five-foot baseline jumper, 4-3.
Gonzalez and fellow-guard Yordan Reyes teamed for a great pass for the next bucket, 6-3, on one of Gonzalez’ eight assists.
Then Nonnewaug sophomore Nick DeCicco (team-high 15 points) showed the Chiefs’ stuff with two straight fast breaks.
In that frantic first quarter, it was a guard’s game.
Sarmiento (15 rebounds) had 6 points in the period for Gilbert, but several were put-backs.
Paxton Franklin (15 points, 7 rebounds), Gilbert’s other big man, had two.
Gonzalez and Reyes combined for the other 12 of Gilbert’s 21 first-quarter points.
DeCicco had eight of Nonnewaug’s 15.
The Chiefs have a 6-6 junior center, Seth Losure, who can be a huge asset.
This game, he was outnumbered by Sarmiento and Franklin.
Gilbert led 34-25 in a close game at the half.
Nonnewaug’s Nick Uberti found his stroke in the third quarter to help keep it tight, 47-42, along with some nice efforts by Losure.
Nevertheless, in the final period, the manpower numbers finally tipped Gilbert’s way.
Sarmiento and Franklin rampaged for 11 of Gilbert’s 16 points in the final period.
The game belonged to Gilbert — alone, at least for now, in second place.
Gilbert 63, Nonnewaug 50
At The Gilbert School
Nonnewaug 15 10 17 8—50
Gilbert 21 13 13 16—63
Nonnewaug (50): Christian Metallo 4-5-14; Nick Uberti 3-0-7; Seth Losure 2-4-8; Chris Pillis 1-0-2; Nick DeCicco 7-1-15; Anthony Adams 0-0-0; Dan Escady 0-0-0; Charlie Timme 1-0-2; Ryan Gunnoud 0-0-0; Andrew Roden 0-2-2; Nate Firlings 0-0-0; Totals: 18-12-50.
Gilbert (63): Yoharkey Sarmiento 9-4-22; Paxton Franklin 5-5-15; Anthony Gonzalez 4-5-15; Yordan Reyes 3-0-7; Matt Coon 0-0-0; T.J. Maher 1-0-2; Mike Castro 0-0-0; Pepe Napoleon 1-0-2; Totals: 23-14-63.
3-point goals: N—Metallo; Uberti. G—Gonzalez 2; Reyes.
Records: Nonnewaug 3-3; Gilbert 4-1.