Westhill boys pull away from Darien to remain unbeaten
Updated 3:00 pm, Thursday, December 20, 2012
STAMFORD -- Locked in a stalemate with a Darien team that looked fully capable of pulling off the upset in its house, the Westhill boys basketball team shook off its early struggles by scoring the final 10 points of the first half to turn a would-be tie into a comfortable halftime advantage.
A dominant third quarter in which they outscored the Blue Wave by 10 sealed the deal for the Vikings, who defended their home court with a 65-43 victory, moving to 2-0.
"Any game in the FCIAC is huge to win, especially your first home-opener," Nieves said. "It really gives the kids something to go off of."
Making his Darien debut, Matt Staubi displayed an early hot hand by scoring all nine of his team's first quarter points --including a long 3-pointer -- and he and the Blue Wave trailed just 10-9 after the frame. Staubi went on to score 12 points on the night.
Tied 13-13 midway through the second quarter, the Vikings went on a 10-0 run to take a 23-13 lead into the locker room. The damage was done by Yveson Cassamajor (six points in the second quarter) and Jeremiah Livingston (seven points in the second), punctuated by a long buzzer beating 3 by Cassamajor.
"That crazy 3 to end the half really helped us and put it over the edge," Nieves said. "I like the way they responded after our halftime talk, and they really impressed me. The kids got the message that we had to pick up the intensity."
Cassamajor dropped a game-high 25 points on the Blue Wave, followed by 12 points from Livingston, the only other Viking to reach double-digits.
"It's going to take us a little while to gel, but I've got faith," Darien coach Kyle Marian said. "I know the guys felt that they could have won this game, and I know they'll come back on Sunday and we'll get back after it and try to take care of Ridgefield on Tuesday."
Any hopes of a Blue Wave rally were dashed in the third quarter as the Vikings took total control. With its defense permitting very few open looks on its own side of the court, Westhill pulled away on the strength of seven points by both Cassamajor and CJ Donaldson in the quarter.
The fourth quarter was mostly academic, but Darien managed to close within 54-37 at one point, and newcomer Chima Azuonwu notched nine of his team-high 14 points thanks to some strong play under the Westhill basket.
Darien, which finished 2-18 last season, showed signs of an improved team.
"It's tough because it's not for a lack of effort. We only scored four points in the second quarter, which is not acceptable," Marian said. "With the group we have and the weapons we have, we've got to produce more. At the same time, I saw a lot of good things. When we did get the ball inside, they didn't have much of a way to stop us."
Prior to tip-off, there was a moment of silence for the victims in the Newtown shooting, followed by the National Anthem.
"Today we saw a moment that shakes you to the core. I know there were a lot of other games cancelled," Marian said. "I had to say in the locker room `Let's understand this isn't the end of the world. There are greater tragedies out there. At the end of the day, this is a game, and we're lucky enough to be able to play it.' "
"It puts something in the back of the kids' minds. It made them think. It can happen at any school," Nieves said. "I feel sorry for the kids and the parents that went through that."
email@example.com; Twitter: @jchik17
Westhill 65, Darien 43
DARIEN (0-1, 0-1 FCIAC)
Matt Staubi 5 0-0 12; Brian Wiegand 0 0-0 0; Liam Naughton 2 2-2 7; George Phillips 2 0-0 5; Chima Azuonwu 6 2-2 14; Henry Baldwin 1 1-2 3; John Murray 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 5-6 43.
WESTHILL (2-0, 2-0 FCIAC)
Jeremiah Livingston 5 2-2 12; Terrell Middleton 1 0-0 2; C.J. Donaldson 5 0-0 12; Evans Skoparantzas 3 1-1 7; Yveson Cassamajor 8 7-8 25; Guyveson Cassamajor 1 0-0 2; Ariel DelaCruz 0 1-2 1; Marquis Giddiens 0 1-3 1; Jesse Koretz 0 3-4 3; Nick Longo 0 0-0 0; Jorden Young 0 0-0 0; Luke Herritt 0 0-0 0; Brian Pantaleon 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 15-20 65.
DARIEN 9 4 12 18 -- 43
WESTHILL 10 13 22 20 --65
3-Pointers: D -- Staubi 2, Naughton, Phillips. W -- Donaldson 2, Y. Cassamajor 2.