BURLINGTON – No. 3-seeded Shepaug and No. 1 Wamogo followed the same script for wins in the Berkshire League Boys Basketball Tournament semifinals at Lewis MillsTuesday night.
After a first quarter when No. 2 Nonnewaug looked ready to blow Shepaug away, the Warriors tied it up by halftime, then drew away to a 63-52 win over a team that beat them twice, by a total of three points, in the regular season.
In the second game, No. 4 Litchfield had the undefeated Warriors’ number in the first half, leading by a point with 31 seconds left before Wamogo stepped on the gas to a 56-35 final in the second half.
“We had a very poor start. Their pressure was very good in the first quarter,” said Shepaug coach Matt Lefevre, whose team trailed the Chiefs 13-2 after the first four minutes, with the help of three Nonnewaug steals.
Jackson Baker (team-high 13 points) carried the torch for Nonnewaug with seven of his 13 points in the first period, but Shepaug guards Owen Hibbard and Joe Brunelli came to life in the second.
“We worked hard to come back,” said Hibbard, a sophomore, with nine of his game-high 24 points in the second quarter, drawing the Spartans back to a 31-31 tie by the half.
Senior captain Brunelli (19 points) hit 3 three’s in a row in the third quarter, sparking the Spartans to a 52-43 lead at the end of three.
“We did what we had to do,” said Brunelli, after the Spartans were finally assured of getting over the Nonnewaug hump.
In the second game, Litchfield’s defensive game plan was to focus on certain key players on the regular-season champions’ team.
In a low scoring first half, it made the Warriors look beatable for the first time this year.
“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t have the lead at the half,” said Cowboy coach Dan Goscninski, just foiled by a last-second layup from Garrett Sattazahn for an 18-17 Wamogo lead at halftime.
‘We didn’t make good decisions in the first half,” said Wamogo coach Gregg Hunt. “Our offense was their best defense.”
Nevertheless, the Warriors came out of the locker room as their old selves, scoring the first nine points of the second half on the way to 36-23 control of the game by the end of the third quarter.
Sattazahn finished with a game-high 19 points; Sean Coffey joined him with 11.
Tom Brady was high scorer for Litchfield with 11.
The teams will meet for the tournament championship Friday evening at 7 p.m. at Lewis Mills High School.