Stratton Helps Put the Rams Back on the Map
The Old Saybrook boys’ basketball team enjoyed its best regular season in recent memory during the 2022 campaign, and one of major reasons for the Rams’ resurgence is junior point guard Ryan Stratton.
Old Saybrook went 2-18 when Ryan was a freshman, and he knew that the Rams needed to start this season strong if they wanted to see success. In his first game of the year, Ryan scored a career-best 35 points in a win against Hale-Ray, and Old Saybrook has been notching victories ever since. Now, this week, the Rams are set to compete in states.
“My favorite moment was our first game this year versus Hale-Ray. Not only was this one of my best personal performances, but it also was a good team win and represented a new beginning for this program,” says Ryan. “After going 2-18 two years ago and losing to Hale-Ray in the [Shoreline Conference Tournament] last year, this was a huge game to get us rolling this season.”
Ryan started playing basketball when he was four. The point guard has several family ties to the sport, so choosing basketball was an easy decision for him.
“I got into the sport because of my family, especially my grandfather [Tom LaBella], who coached at Middletown High School and assisted at Wesleyan; and my cousin Justin Menard, who is currently at Loomis Chaffee,” Ryan says. “I love what basketball has taught me as a person. The sport requires lots of hard work, discipline, and practice, which are all things I can take into any challenges in my life.”
Ryan averaged 16.8 points and 6 assists per game while helping Old Saybrook finish its regular season with a record of 14-6. Head Coach Chris Perras describes Ryan as the motor of his team and says he helps the Rams play at the speed that they need to succeed.
“Ryan’s a great competitor and always stays after practice to work on his shooting or handling. He wants to win more than anything, and he’s always analyzing previous games to improve his skillset for the next game,” says Perras. “We talk a lot about how to be efficient and how he can contribute to putting this team in a position to be successful. Ryan is an extension of the coaching staff, as we have a shared vision and goals for the team. He is trusted amongst his teammates to make the right play or be in the right spot on defense.”
Ryan says that his relationship with Coach Perras both on and off the court has meant the world to him throughout his time at Old Saybrook High School. Even when Ryan was playing three different sports, Perras would show up to his games and encourage him.
“He’s always been there for me, whether it’s in basketball or life. We really created a special bond as we moved up in the program together, starting on junior varsity my freshman year and both getting called up,” Ryan says of Perras. “His care for me and dedication for the program is unmatched, and I truly appreciate it. He went to almost all my soccer games this fall and never fails to open the gym for me, before or after practice.”
Ryan spent countless hours working on his skills throughout the recent offseason. Whether he’s shooting the ball by himself in a gym or playing pickup games, Ryan has dedicated himself to becoming the best basketball player he can be.
“I improve my game through constant practice. During the offseason, I shoot almost every day and go to the gym about five days a week,” says Ryan. “I also play pickup throughout the summer and AAU basketball for Project Triple Threat in the spring. I also play soccer, and I ran track last year.”
Outside of high school athletics, Ryan enjoys spending time with his friends and family, especially his cousin Justin Menard. Along with his success in sports, Ryan is also succeeding in the classroom at Old Saybrook.
“I often will play basketball and ping-pong for fun with my friends. I also like to go to church as much as possible,” Ryan says. “Aside from sports, I consider myself a good student. I take honors and AP classes and get an A-minus and above in every class.”
Old Saybrook took a loss in the Shoreline Conference Tournament last week, but still has the Division V State Tournament on the way. Ryan feels pleased about what the Rams achieved during the regular season and wants to help them go on a deep run in the state tourney.
“Going into this year, I wanted to win every game, but I was realistic, and my goal was to finish between 14-6 and 16-4 in the regular season, and we finished 14-6. I wish I could get one or two of those games back, but if you told me we would have that record before the season, I probably would have taken it,” says Ryan. “Going forward, my goal is to win the state championship. I think we have a very respectable team and can make a run.”