By MICHAEL LETENDRE
MERIDEN – Back on Nov. 9, 2008, the Platt and Bristol Eastern high school football teams engaged in the “Silver City Shootout,” a contest that saw the Lancers defeat the Panthers by a 55-35 final in a high-scoring affair that reached 90 points.
Well, in another version of the “Silver City Shootout” – this time pitting the same two high schools on the basketball court on Tuesday, Feb. 17 – the hoops squad from Eastern didn’t need any help in reaching the 90-point barrier.
In fact, the Lancers were three points shy of tying the program’s all-time scoring record for points in a game as Eastern buried Platt in a wild 97-62 CCC South tilt from Orville T. Platt High School in Meriden.
And buried would be the appropriate term as the Lancers scored the most points in a game since defeating Goodwin Tech in the Plainville Tournament back on December 27, 1992 by a 99-26 final.
But Platt was pesky throughout, leading by one after one period of action with a 25-point quarter, but just couldn’t keep pace.
Eastern adjusted well against the Platt defense and when the Lancers broke the full-court pressure, quick lay-ups, and open three-point bombs followed.
“We knew they were a pressing team,” said Eastern coach Mike Giovinazzo of Platt. “We knew the pace was going to be frantic. We we’re just trying to maximize our possessions., tying to break pressure, and get a good shot. And we did a good job at that.”
The Lancers put together an amazing display, notching at least 23 points in every quarter as the Eastern starters scored a combined 87 points and shot 60-percent from the field.
Kevin Love had his best game of the season, jamming in several dunks including a break-away slam late in the fray by the senior that had the crowd absolutely buzzing.
He ended the contest with a game-best 27 points, 19 rebounds, and dished out four assists; while Daron McKoy zipped in five threes on his way to 25 points, three rebounds, three assists, and three steals in a complete game effort.
George Taylor III just missed out on a triple-double with 19 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
But the contributions from the other two starters, Darieyn Tate and Austin, were just as critical as the duo pitched in two big efforts.
Tate, battling foul trouble the entire evening, added up seven points, six rebounds, and five assists; while Austin Dias flipped in nine points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
“We knew that, because of the pace of the game that, we were going to have to have balance,” said Giovinazzo. “One or two guys weren’t going to be able to dominate and I thought those guys [Tate and Dias] did a great job of spreading the ball around.”
Nate Hickey came off the bench for career highs of five points and two assists; Tyler Arbuckle threw in a three; while Riley Mason nailed a hoop late in the game to propel Eastern to the victory.
Rickie Sanders scored all 12 of his points in the first period of play; but the Eastern defense made adjustments, shut down the shooter as he got in foul trouble, and didn’t score again over the final 24 minutes of play.
The Lancers tallied 12 of the first 16 points over the first 2:38 of the opening stanza and led it by eight off a Love jam.
But Platt ended the frame on a 21-12 burst as a Sanders three and a hoop from Jaberi Lindsay gave the Panthers a 25-24 edge after one.
Eastern opened the second off a 11-2 push as two free throws from McKoy made it a 35-27 contest with 4:55 remaining in the half.
Late in the second period, Love found Tate for a lay-up; but Xavier Rivera (11 points) made two charity tosses and Sam Trimmer cashed in on a put-back as Platt trimmed the deficit to 45-36, with thirty seconds left.
“They are dangerous, they are dangerous,” said Giovinazzo of Platt. “They’re capable of spurts, they’re capable of scoring in bunches. If you’re not focused for the entire 32 minutes, they can make you pay.”
In the third, Eastern kept the defensive pressure up, limiting Platt to only 13 points, and built the lead to over 20 points.
Eastern was in front 62-47 when the road squad ended the final quarter with a flourish.
Off an 8-2 jaunt, McKoy drilled a free throw and a three; Love found Dias for a jumper; and Love ended the tilt with an offensive rebound put-back as the Lancers etched up a 70-49 edge early in the fourth.
The Panthers tried to stay in it but Taylor and Love wouldn’t have any of it.
McKoy canned back-to-back threes; Love hit two dunks in a row including that nasty jam with 5:36 remaining as the Eastern bench was rocking and Platt was trailing 80-54.
Taylor added a lay-up and a three; while a steal and hoop from Hickey made it an 87-58 game with 3:21 left to play.
The starters were quickly removed from the game for Eastern, but Arbuckle canned a three and late in the contest; Mason added his first hoop of the campaign as the Lancers turned away the Panthers by a 97-62 final.
“We had two great practices leading up to this and they were very focused when they got on the bus today,” said Giovinazzo. “They were ready to go. Now we’ve got our work cut out for us against Simsbury.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE