East Haven Boys’ Hoops Drops Contest Against Hand
Senior captain Ian Reynolds (pictured in a game from last year) and the East Haven boys’ basketball team took a 52-38 defeat against Hand in a home game last week. Reynolds sank five 3-pointers on his way to scoring 15 points in the loss. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Nick Furino (pictured in a game from last year) and the Yellowjackets are 1-1 on the season after dropping a 52-39 decision versus Hand on Feb. 16. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Shea Carasone and East Haven boys’ hoops will look to bounce back from their recent loss to Hand by getting back in the win column this week. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
After undergoing a roster makeover during the offseason, the East Haven boys’ basketball team started off the 2021 campaign by a earning a home win versus North Haven in their first game of the year. In week two, the Yellowjackets hosted Daniel Hand for a contest at East Haven High School and took a 52-38 loss to the Tigers on Feb. 16.
The Easties trailed Hand 26-18 at halftime of last week’s matchup. The Tigers went on to outscore East Haven by a 26-20 margin in the second half to get the 14-point victory. The Yellowjackets are now 1-1 on the young season.
Head Coach Ricky Narracci and his players watched the film from the Hand game during their practice on Feb. 20. Narracci said that everyone took note of some mistakes that East Haven made in the game.
“We did not play well. Part of it was certainly due to Hand. We just had a lot of missed coverages defensively that allowed Hand to get looks at the 3-point line. We were just a step off of where we should have been. It cost us,” said Narracci. “They did an outstanding job of defending us. We scored 38 points, and we really earned all 38. They made it difficult for us to get anything easy.”
Senior captain guard Ian Reynolds hit five 3-pointers on his way to scoring 15 points for East Haven against Hand. Coach Narracci said that Reynolds’s efforts proved crucial in keeping the contest as close as it was.
“He really kept us in it and kept it closer than it should have been. He hit really long, contested threes,” Narracci said of Reynolds. “We played hard all night. I was happy about that. We got the lead down to three and had an opportunity to get it down to one, but we couldn’t get over the hump. They closed the deal at the end.”
Senior captain guard Nick Furino scored 10 points, while fellow senior guard Alias Ford had seven points for the Yellowjackets. Furino had previously scored 27 points when East Haven beat North Haven 80-45 in its season opener.
Coach Narracci knows how important his seniors are going to be for the Easties this season. In addition to Reynolds, Furino, and Ford, East Haven’s senior class includes forwards Trey Garea and Alex Duarte, center Larry Mingione, and guards Elynn Rivera, Devin Guliani-Santiago, Jayden Ortiz, and Mekhi Franklin. Garea and Mingione both hit a basket in the Hand game, as did sophomore guard Shea Carasone.
“It’s really no secret. When teams win, they have seniors. It’s tough to win in our league when you don’t have experienced guys,” Coach Narracci said. “We’ve got three guys in Reynolds, Ford, and Furino who have all been playing since their sophomore year. With them and some seniors who didn’t play as juniors, we can play more guys, we can rest guys, we can do different things defensively. It’s just a matter of staying healthy and having everybody there.”
Last season, East Haven was competing with a rotation of just five or six players on any given night. This season, though, the Yellowjackets feature much more depth, and Narracci has already played as many as 11 people in a game. Coach Narracci said that the Yellowjackets’ added depth not only allows the starters to get more rest, but keeps all of his players on their toes for when that opportunity to get playing time may arise.
“It’s great. When you’re depending on guys to score points and defend the other team’s best players, it’s tough to do that for 32 minutes,” said Narracci. “You got to give kids a break here and there, especially this year with all the COVID protocols. Guys have to be ready, even if they’re JV guys. It’s a peculiar year.”
Despite the defensive struggles against Hand, Coach Narracci doesn’t expect his team to make any major adjustments on defense at this time. Narracci is hoping that the Easties will improve their defense on ball screens and work toward not allowing easy transition baskets or open threes.
As East Haven looks to bounce back from its recent defeat, Coach Narracci wants the Yellowjackets to focus on the little things on every possession. Whether it’s the first quarter or the final frame, Narracci’s goal is for the Easties to play their hardest and play smart for every second of each contest.
“Every possession is huge. One of the things we pointed out in film was how we got down 9-0 to start the game. We followed it up with a 7-0 run and, the next possession, we gave up a wide-open look after just because we didn’t communicate in transition,” Narracci said. “Those little momentum shifts, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the first quarter or the fourth quarter. Every possession is big, and we have to compete for 32 minutes.”