WINSTED — Covid? What Covid?
While The Gilbert and Housatonic girls basketball teams were showing a highly-restricted number of fans how normal on-court basketball can look on Monday’s opening night at The Gilbert School, even with masks and strict Covid protocols, Yellowjacket guard/forward Dylan Crowley soared to new heights with the boys team in an 82-51 Gilbert win over the Mountaineers at Housatonic High School.
Mask in place, Crowley tied the single-game Berkshire League scoring record with 54 points, including seven 3-pointers and multiple drives and put-backs, along with 6 assists and 6 steals.
“We do a lot of conditioning in practice, so we’re all in good shape,” said the 6-4, 180-pound senior who played for all but the game’s final three minutes. “The mask break (one minute midway through each quarter) helps a lot.”
Still, 54 points is 54 points. Former teammate Hunter Smith set the league record last year as a Yellowjacket senior without a mask in a 74-63 win over Granby, Massachusetts and it was a phenomenal feat then.
This year, without Smith, Crowley is the Yellowjackets’ go-to guy.
“Last year, (Crowley) had some really good games, but also some lower games,” Gilbert coach Mark Douglass said. “This year, I told him he had to work on other aspects of his game, like moving without the ball.”
“I have a good friend (Northwestern High School graduate Levi Delaney) who’s a true point guard and he worked with me all summer on coming off screens and getting open,” Crowley said.
“Everything (Cowley) did (Monday) was within our offense,” Douglass said.
Against a defense like Housatonic’s man-to-man, “I get one or two screens; our plays, coming off a cut, free me up a lot on offense,” Crowley said. “I want to thank my teammates for getting me the ball.”
With the system working to perfection, Crowley scored 19 points in Monday’s first quarter.
“I didn’t realize I had a shot (at the record) until then,” he said. “My teammates were definitely excited about it; they gave me positive energy the whole game. It made me hungry; I wanted to do more.”
But within the system. After a first quarter like that, double and triple teams are inevitable.
“I like to pass against double teams,” Crowley said. “I don’t like to force things; it doesn’t do any good.”
With the game finally on ice, with three minutes left, Crowley came to the bench thinking he was two points short of the record.
“Coach was going to put me back in, but they recounted and the clock was winding down. Coach and I agreed I didn’t need to go back in.”
“It’s not just the record; it’s about the team,” Douglass said. “(Crowley) was fine with that.”
“Everyone was definitely thrilled,” Crowley said. “You’ve got to be happy.”
Crowley committed in November to play next fall at Western New England University (Springfield, Mass).
With a BL target now firmly on his back for the rest of this season, “As long as we get the win, the points don’t matter,” he says.
After all, he and Smith already own the record book.