Golden Eagles boys' basketball falls to fast-breaking Falcons

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Jan. 9, 2012
Bradley Harriott at the foul line on his way to scoring 29 points. Photo by D. Coffey.
Bradley Harriott at the foul line on his way to scoring 29 points. Photo by D. Coffey.

The Ellis Tech Golden Eagles boys’ basketball team lost to Prince Tech on Dec. 6 by a score of 57-69. The young Eagles team kept it close until late in the third quarter, when a series of turnovers gave Prince Tech the advantage.

“I think they get tired and have two minutes of bad basketball and bad turnovers. Those two minutes turn into a 10- to 12-point lead,” said Ellis Tech coach Dan Piccione after the game. “The pressure got to them in the third quarter.”

At the half, the Eagles were just four points behind the Falcons, 31-35. But the fast-paced game that the Falcons brought to Ellis Tech was hard for the Eagles to adjust to. The Falcons, an ECC Class M contender, forced the Eagles, a fairly young CSC league team, to play against a team that relies on fast breaks and one-on-one plays.  It's a different kind of game than the Eagles are used to.

“Prince plays a fast-break ball,” Piccione said. “A lot of teams in the east play a half-court set, a zone defense, that kind of thing. For the most part, that's what we do, and that's what we're good at. We try to condense the game into a half-court game. It actually worked for the first three quarters.”

Then the Falcons made the Eagles pay with a series of turnovers.

“Towards the end, they were still playing. They were still trying to score and get rebounds, and I'm proud of them,” Piccione said. “That was good to see.”

The Eagles' leadership comes from their two seniors, Josh Stillwell and Corey Barry, but Piccione calls his team a young one. Out of 13 players who suit up for varsity, he has five juniors that see a lot of playing time and a few sophomores that are contributing on a regular basis. But they are still learning, the coach said. “We're trying to find the right chemistry out there, and it's been a process,” he said. “It's been a roller coaster.”

The first two games of the season were close ones, but the team wasn't able to notch wins. A close one against the Putnam Clippers didn't help. Neither did losing their point guard, Jordan Panteleakos, who rolled his ankle in an early game and is slowly coming back. But perhaps most discouraging of all has been playing a slew of teams they aren't used to seeing.

“This year we're playing a lot of teams from Hartford, and even going into western Connecticut,” Piccione said. “I really miss the old conference we used to have and staying around eastern Connecticut.” The Eagles used to play Parish Hill and Windham Tech twice a year. “We don't do that anymore,” Piccione said. “I miss those rivalries. The teams we're playing now play a different kind of basketball.”

With more of an emphasis on athleticism, fast breaks and individual plays, the Falcons made it harder for the Eagles to adjust on defense.

Bradley Harriott scored 29 points and Corey Barry put in a great defensive performance, but Piccione was happy with them all. “We really got contributions from everyone,” he said.

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