SHELTON – Peri Basimakopoulos became the third Shelton High boys’ basketball player in three years to reach the 1,000-point plateau last week, scoring a career-high 32 points in a 68-52 victory over North Haven at Murray Gymnasium.
But his route to the milestone was different than his predecessors and former teammates Jeff Stockmal (class of 2017) and Brian Berritto (class of 2019).
“Stock and Berritto, we played them on the ball,” said Shelton coach Brian Gardiner. “They had the ball in their hands constantly. Peri is off the ball, so we try to run him off screens. But to be honest with you, he scores a lot of his points going and getting the ball.
“He creates his own [baskets]. The last couple years, we ran everything through Berritto, so it was just pure hustle that he was getting a lot of points,” continued Gardiner. “Now, we run a lot of stuff through [Brian] Belade, and it’s similar for him. He’s used to that role.”
Basimakopoulos played with Stockmal for one season, and Berritto for three. While he’s good friends with Berritto, now playing as a freshman at Western New England University, it’s another Berritto that Basimakopoulos modeled his game after.
“Brian and Jeff were great scorers, good leaders…they were good guys to look up to. But I really tried to model my game after David Berritto. He was on [my] freshman year team,” said Basimakopoulos of the older Berritto, now a graduate assistant coach for the Gaels. “Everyone looks at the points, but the more important guys are the guys diving on loose balls, getting the extra possession.”
This season got off to a rocky start for both Basimakopoulos and the Gaels. Shelton lost its first three games, and Basimakopoulos struggled to find his shooting touch through the first five games, averaging just 12.2 points.
But both Shelton and Basimakopoulos have rebounded nicely. Basimakopoulos has averaged 22.4 points a game over his last 13 games and the Gaels have won 15 of their last 16.
“I started off the season struggling a lot. [My teammates] picked me up, helped me through it,” said Basimakopoulos. “Lately, I’ve been making shots and they find me. They know if I hit one, I can make 10 in a row.”
It’s no coincidence that as Basimakopoulos has found his scoring touch, Shelton has surged.
“I am just proud of him,” said Gardiner of Basimakopoulos. “He has a top-notch work ethic, top-notch kid, is a great leader. He’s just willing us to a lot of these victories. We’ve played some close games, and he just doesn’t want us to lose.”
Basimakopoulos is quick to point out that it’s a team effort, and Shelton’s success has everything to do with the team rather than one individual.
“One night, Brian can go out there and score 29 like he did last time against [North Haven],” said Basimakopoulos, referring to Shelton’s 72-66 OT win over the Indians earlier this season. “Whoever has the hot hand, we’re not selfish, we just give it up. I feel like we are playing good team basketball.”
While basketball has become a focal point for Basimakopoulos — in his words, he “Can’t get enough of it” and plans to play next year at an-as-of-yet undetermined college — it wasn’t always that way growing up.
“When I was a kid, I was soccer full-time,” said Basimakopoulos. “I tried every sport, football, lacrosse, and I always played rec basketball. I think in seventh grade, I fell in love with [basketball]. I decided to play all year.”
There was a big learning curve from middle school basketball to varsity high school basketball.
“It was a big change because in 7th grade, I was a big. I was this height [6’1”] in 7th grade. So, then I had to transfer into a guard’s position.”
It’s safe to say, 1,000-plus points later, that the transition has gone well for both Basimakopoulos and the Shelton boys’ basketball team.
Shelton High Boys’ Basketball 1,000 Point Club
Peri Basimakopoulos 2020*
Brian Berritto 2019
Rafael Cardoso 1999
Peter Kasper 1991
Joe Lucas 1983
Jeff Stockmal 2017
Joe Sedlock 1969
Tyler Turtoro 2006