TERRYVILLE — Don’t let anyone tell you league and pod tournaments can’t be just as exciting as the Big Dance without this year’s Covid-cancelled state tournaments.
“It’s all they’ve got,” said Wamogo assistant coach Darryl Morhardt after the No. 6 Warriors came close to erasing a 19-point fourth-quarter deficit to No. 3 Terryville in a 51-48 Kangaroo win in the Berkshire League tournament quarterfinals at Terryville High School Friday afternoon.
Both teams played their hearts out in matching fast-paced full-court pressing systems for three quarters.
Wamogo (5-8) matched the Roos bucket for bucket in the first period.
Warrior Matt Thompson (team-high 18 points), at the heart of Wamogo’s defense, turned a steal into a layup for a 7-5 lead midway through the period.
Dominick Dao (11 points), anchoring Terryville’s defense, turned the same trick feeding a steal to Roo star Dylan Matulis (21 points) after Matulis took the lead back with one of his four threes for the day.
The quarter ended with a 13-10 Terryville edge after Wamogo’s Carter Norland and Kangaroo Sean O’Donnell (10 points) hit matching threes from their corners.
Then, for the next two quarters, the Warriors lost their shooting touch, including multiple layups, to Terryville pressure while the Kangaroos, led by Matulis’ 17 points through three quarters, kept up a steady stream to the basket.
A little over a minute into the final period, Terryville’s O’Donnell, with his second three-pointer of the day, stretched the Kangaroo lead to 43-24 and Wamogo fans, if Covid protocols let them into the gym, might have considered going back out.
But not the Warriors.
“We made a few shots and our defense got us more aggressive on offense,” Wamogo coach Gregg Hunt said.
The Warriors’ Charlie Coffee (15 points), Nolan Turturo (8 points) and Thompson rolled to their best quarter of the day, whittling the Terryville lead to 45-37 after Dao fouled out with 4:33 left on the clock.
“Wamogo became the aggressor,” Kangaroo coach Mark Fowler saod. “We lost our composure.”
The Roos extended their lead with baskets by Matulis and O’Donnell, but then Wamogo’s Thompson threatened to take over the game with a three, a steal and a coast-to-coast hoop closing the Terryville lead to 49-42, plus another foul shot from Coffey.
With 1:21 left, Matulis fouled out and “It was anybody’s game,” Morhardt said.
Turtoro hit a layup, underlining the point, 49-45.
But the clock was down to 40 seconds.
Terryville’s O’Donnell and Marc Muldong hit a foul shot apiece. Coffey’s three-pointer at the buzzer wasn’t quite enough.
Still, “I was very happy with our fourth quarter,” Hunt said.
“I think we can beat any team in the tournament,” Matulis said.
The Kangaroos play a semifinal match Tuesday against Nonnewaug, a 74-53 winner over Thomaston, as another test of that conviction.
The near-guarantee is it will be just as exciting as Friday’s.