McMahon's stout defense contains Darien
The Brien McMahon boys basketball team would like to believe it's better than its record might indicate.
At least for one night, the Senators proved it.
After coming up short against a number of FCIAC heavyweights, the Senators finally found someone they could push around, using a tremendous defensive effort to post a 51-36 victory over Darien Tuesday night.
McMahon (2-12 overall, 2-10 FCIAC) struggled at times on offense, failing to muster a double-digit scorer. But the Senators made up for it on the other end of the court, forcing 22 Darien turnovers while holding the Blue Wave to just two points in the second quarter.
McMahon led 27-12 at halftime lead then used a five-point explosion by freshman Timmy Hinton early in the third to put the game out of reach at 32-14.
McMahon has battled hard this season, losing in double-overtime against Danbury and by one point against Trumbull. The Senators also hung in there against Trinity Catholic before dropping a 10-point decision.
Finally, the young Senators were rewarded with a victory.
"They've been playing real hard," said McMahon head coach Mo Tomlin, who had one sophomore and one freshman among his starting five. "They deserve it. It's definitely nice to see the kids get a W."
With a remaining schedule that includes top-ranked and undefeated St. Joseph as well as Ridgefield, the Senators will likely miss the state playoffs. But McMahon still has something extremely valuable to take into next season.
"The season's not over. We still have a chance to make it. We just have to have confidence in each other," said junior point guard Andy Mitchell, who scored six points to go along with four rebounds and two assists. "We just have to work hard and believe in each other and we can do anything. People expected us to lose to Trinity by about 30 and we only lost by 11, so that says a lot."
Like McMahon, the Blue Wave (2-12 overall, 1-11 FCIAC) went into the game thinking they had a great chance to win.
"McMahon always seems to have a ton of talent, but they graduated a bunch of seniors," Darien head coach Kyle Marian said. "We have to take advantage of the opportunities when we have them. It's not every day in the FCIAC when you run into a team that's rebuilding."
With senior captains Jeff Leeker (ACL) and Matt Lee (ankle) both out of action, the Blue Wave just could not produce anything in the way of consistent offense. Sophomore George Phillips did his best to lead Darien to the home victory, scoring a game-high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds.
But Darien managed just eight more field goals to go with the work of Phillips and went nearly seven minutes between baskets in the first half.
The Blue Wave turned the ball over 14 times over the first two quarters, and after Phillips hit his only 3-pointer to end the first, didn't score again until sophomore point guard Bobby Fitzpatrick found his way to the basket on a layup with 1:20 left before halftime.
McMahon led 42-20 before Darien made things respectable with a 10-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters.
Junior Liam Naughton (eight points) hit two of his team's three 3-pointers and led the Blue Wave with eight rebounds.
"What you saw out there was the future of our program," Marian said. "But hopefully (the way we played tonight) is not the future of our program."
McMahon definitely saw some bright rays of light.
Sophomore forward Larry McKinney wasn't at his best when it comes to scoring. He finished with nine points, including two 3-pointers, and also had a monster tomahawk dunk that was waved off due to traveling. But McKinney was still McMahon's best player, pulling down eight rebounds, sparking the defense with four steals while doing a great job distributing the ball, finishing with a game-high five assists.
"That's what he does best, really," Tomlin said.
McMahon also showed balanced scoring with nine players hitting the scoresheet, including a nice night of shooting by senior Darkym Stroud (nine points, six rebounds).
"We don't have that one guy who's going to go crazy," Tomlin said. "So it's nice to be able to use our bench to pick up the slack."