Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Sports

Valley Boys’ Hoops Scores Two Victories, Qualifies for States

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Senior captain Simon Partyka and the Valley boys’ basketball team improved to 8-7 by earning victories over North Branford and Wethersfield in last week’s contests. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain Simon Partyka and the Valley boys’ basketball team improved to 8-7 by earning victories over North Branford and Wethersfield in last week’s contests. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Senior captain James Marsden took over in the fourth quarter when the Warriors rallied to edge out Wethersfield by a 51-49 final on Feb. 2. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

Senior captain James Marsden took over in the fourth quarter when the Warriors rallied to edge out Wethersfield by a 51-49 final on Feb. 2. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)

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Junior Sam Hutchinson and Valley boys’ hoops bounced back from a brief rough patch by defeating North Branford and Wethersfield in recent action. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

Junior Sam Hutchinson and Valley boys’ hoops bounced back from a brief rough patch by defeating North Branford and Wethersfield in recent action. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)

After enduring stretch in which it lost four out of five games, the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team has rebounded in a major way. The Warriors have recorded three-straight victories, including two last week, to improve their overall record to 8-7 on the season.

Valley claimed two wins on its home floor in recent action. The Warriors defeated North Branford by a 41-32 score on Jan. 31 and then posted a 51-49 victory against Wethersfield in a non-conference matchup on Feb. 2. Valley qualified for the Division IV State Tournament with the Wethersfield win.

“We won both games this week, and that’s all that really matters,” Head Coach Kevin Woods said. “Did we play great in both games? Not exactly. But we did find a way to overcome adversity? Absolutely.”

In its first game of the week, Valley fell behind North Branford early as the Thunderbirds jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter. However, the Warriors took control of the game from there and outscored North Branford 33-18 over the final three quarters to earn the win.

“Against North Branford, they tried to slow the game down,” said Woods. “And to our credit, we limited turnovers and played great defense.”

Junior captain DiAngelo Jean-Pierre scored 17 points for the Warriors on 5-of-12 shooting from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers. Jean-Pierre also had 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 assists in the victory.

Junior Sam Hutchinson had 8 points with 3 rebounds and 3 assists for Valley. Junior Brayden Shea finished the game with 6 points, followed by senior captain Simon Partyka with 5 points. Senior captain James Marsden led the Warriors on the glass by grabbing 6 boards for Coach Woods’s club.

“In terms of progression, we are doing the best we can. We have overcome adversity with injuries and illnesses throughout the season,” Woods said. “I am incredibly proud of our resiliency and know that if we can play in March with a full roster, we will be just fine.”

Two days later, Valley picked up one of its biggest wins of the season when the team rallied for a 51-49 victory over Wethersfield in Deep River. Valley led 29-28 at halftime, but then was outscored 16-6 in the third quarter. However, the Warriors dominated the fourth quarter with a 16-5 advantage over the Eagles and walked off the floor victorious.

“Against Wethersfield, we were able to speed the game up with pressure and find a way to come back and find a way to win,” said Coach Woods. “The kids worked really hard at the end of the game, and that was one of our best wins this season.”

Marsden finished with 19 points and 6 rebounds in the win. Partyka had 12 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals for Valley Regional. Hutchinson scored 7 points, Shea had 6 points, and Jean-Pierre added 5 points. The Warriors hit seven 3-pointers and forced Wethersfield to commit 10 turnovers on the night.

Coach Woods praised Marsden for his performance down the stretch against Wethersfield. Woods also noted that Valley was bolstered from strong showings from everyone who hit court that night, including juniors Andrew Yermenson and Kevin King.

“Marsden was amazing versus Wethersfield. He stepped up in the fourth quarter in a game where he was not at his best. He played the best quarter of his life when it mattered the most,” Woods said. “The rest of the team was also amazing, and it is unfair to pick out individual performances, but Jean-Pierre, Hutchinson, Yermenson, Partyka, King, and Shea all had great contributions. Everyone played their hearts out, and not mentioning everyone would be a discredit to the team.”

Valley’s roster for the 2022 season includes senior captains Simon Partyka, Marsden, and Saager Patel; seniors Owen Kelly and Zach Kirla; junior captain Jean-Pierre; juniors Yermenson, Hutchinson, King, Shea, and Will Kelly; and sophomores Jack Driscoll and Max Nickel. Coach Woods’s assistant coaches are Scott Harger, Nick Hahn, Lou Rolon, and Anthony Pagano.

In terms of overall statistical leaders, Partyka is leading the Warriors with 12.8 points per game and 4 steals per game at this juncture. Hutchinson owns the rebound crown with 6.6 per contest, and Jean-Pierre is averaging a team-best 5.3 assists a night.

Valley has a few regular-season games remaining before the team competes in the playoffs. This week, the Warriors are playing road games versus Haddam-Killingworth and Morgan and will then host Cromwell.

“My expectations are simple: Get postseason ready and do the best we can in March. These are the games that count the most,” said Woods. “In terms of improvement, we can do this. We just need to get healthy. We’ve been without Saager for a couple of games now due to injury, but once he’s back, we will be pretty much back to full health. I’m excited to see how the rest of the season plays out for us.”



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