Norwalk boys cruise past slumping Darien
DARIEN -- Matched up on the road against a struggling opponent, the Norwalk High boys basketball team cruised from start to finish on Friday.
The Bears turned to a punishing inside game on offense and used a variety of different looks on defense to overpower Darien on the way to a 53-32 victory.
Forward Roy Kane Jr. proved to be a tough cover for Darien throughout the evening, scoring a game-high 15 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 freshman dropped in 11 of those points in the first half, helping Norwalk build a 26-16 lead at the break.
"We're not a big team. That's not a surprise. Our starting center's been out and our bigs aren't big. They're modified bigs. But that's no excuse for not finding bodies or blocking out," Darien head coach Kyle Marian said.
He added, "When you play a kid like Kane Jr.-- he's a quality freshman and he's probably one of the better freshmen in the league, and works hard underneath the hoops -- you've got to know where he is at all times."
Even when Kane Jr. wasn't giving the Blue Wave's undersized frontcourt problems, Norwalk was able to find an answer in the paint. Forward Saeed Soulemane scored seven points and recorded seven rebounds and five assists, and Bobby Stringfellow had five points, six rebounds and three blocks off the bench.
Norwalk led by 16, 39-23, after three quarters and was up by as many as 23 points in the fourth.
"We had a fun game. We just played basketball," Kane Jr. said. "On the offensive glass, we boxed out, got easy offensive rebounds and put backs."
The Bears were just as dominant on defense, showing a number of different looks and surrendering a season-low in points. After watching Darien score 10 points in the first, the Bears held the Blue Wave to single digits in each of the final three quarters.
"Our man-to-man was probably our best defense tonight. The kids in the second half took responsibility for what they were supposed to do," Norwalk head coach Tom Keyes said.
"We played hard," added Norwalk guard Jabari Dear, who recorded four steals to go along with seven points. "We got a lot of turnovers, got easy buckets, a lot of fast-break points, good shots."
For the Blue Wave (2-13, 1-12 FCIAC), guard Liam Naughton led the way with 11 points and forward Thomas MacLean contributed 10.
After both teams traded buckets in the early in the first quarter, guard Rasheen Thompson (seven points) gave Norwalk the lead for good with a 3-pointer that made it 11-8. That spurred a 13-6 run and provided Norwalk some much-needed breathing room after multiple close finishes in recent games. The Bears (9-6, 7-6) were coming off a five-point loss on Wednesday to unbeaten St. Joseph.
"We talked before warm-ups, we were like `Let's play hard, let's warm up hard and get into the game, so that when we get in the game we can push out to a quick lead,'" Dear said.
NORWALK 53, DARIEN 32
NORWALK (9-6, 7-6)
Zaire Wilson 0 0-0 0 Rasheen Thompson 3 0-0 7 Bobby Stringfellow 2 1-2 5 Delshawn Wilson 2 0-0 4 Nick Boccanfuso 1 0-0 2 Shakar Goodwin 0 0-0 0 Spencer Murray-Dais 2 0-0 4 Jabari Dear 3 0-0 7 Roy Kane Jr. 7 1-2 15 Saeed Soulemane 3 0-0 7 Ra'Von Shular 0 0-0 0 Luke Sweeney 0 0-0 0 Sean Butler 0 0-0 0 Kwazee Rice 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 2-4 53.
DARIEN (2-13, 1-12)
Bobby Fitzpatrick 0 0-0 0 Brian Wiegand 1 0-0 2 Liam Naughton 4 2-2 11 Drew Martzoff 0 0-0 0 Kyle Green 2 1-4 5 George Phillips 1 0-0 2 Thomas MacLean 3 4-6 10 Jonathon Dehlin 0 0-0 0 Ian Burgoyne 1 0-0 2 Ames Murray 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 7-12 32.
NORWALK 17 9 13 14--53
DARIEN 10 6 7 9--32
3-pointers: N--Thompson, Dear, Soulemane; D--Naughton.