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Resilient Spartans still harbor tournament dreams

Published 4:06 pm, Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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  • Lucas Guliano of the Spartans attempts to find a path to the basket during Shepaug Valley High School boys' basketball's game vs. Gilbert, Jan. 18, 2013 in Washington. Photo: Norm Cummings
    Lucas Guliano of the Spartans attempts to find a path to the basket during Shepaug Valley High School boys' basketball's game vs. Gilbert, Jan. 18, 2013 in Washington. Photo: Norm Cummings

 

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There are high school sports seasons of highs and lows.

To a player, it is likely the Shepaug Valley High School boys' basketball team would describe their 2012-13 campaign that way.

The Spartans experienced one of those highs last Friday in front of their home fans in Washington.

Coach Matt Perachi's hardcourt crew outplayed Housatonic Valley Regional, 62-40, for its third win of the winter. The victory not only clinched a season's sweep of the Region 1 Mountaineers, but snapped an eight-game Spartan losing skein.

"When the season began, our primary goal was to qualify for both the CIAC and Berkshire League tournaments," said coach Perachi. "Due to our experience, our depth, and our size, we felt as if we could be a very competitive team on a nightly basis."

The quartet of games leading up to Christmas did nothing to change that outlook. The Spartans spanked Housy and bounced back from road defeats to Lewis Mills and Gilbert to outplay Litchfield, 51-47.

Unfortunately, the ensuing loss for five games of a good share of the varsity's most experienced players due to disciplinary reasons set the Region 12 quintet on its collective ear.

"After some early season success," reflected coach Perachi, "we found ourselves playing a large chunk of our mid-season with a drastically different lineup than we had initially anticipated."

"This lineup had to quickly adjust to expanded varsity roles," he explained, "and although they struggled, they made tremendous strides and greatly improved as individuals, and also as a team."

Two weeks ago, the roster was pretty much back to its original status and the Spartans started the long climb back... culminated by the easy triumph over the Mountaineers.

"The majority of our early-season lineup is back playing together, and we seem to be playing at the level we were early in the season," said coach Perachi.

Heading into a Tuesday visit to Litchfield, the Spartans owned a 3-10 record, still holding hopes to qualify for the state class `S' tournament.

"As long as our goal of tournament play is still mathematically possible, that remains our primary goal," said the Shepaug bench boss. "We must win five of our last seven games to qualify.

" Along the way, we are looking to constantly improve," he added, "by focusing upon playing fundamental team basketball."

Coach Perachi was high in praise of senior captain Spencer Ylagan.

"He has made solid contributions to the team, has been very consistent and has been an effective leader all season long," praised his coach.

Fellow seniors Dylan McAward, Kellen Rikhoff, Lucas Guliano and Peyton Kay also received compliments from their coach, who noted those players "have been integral to our team's success this season, and bring great experience and athleticism."

There's promise for the future, too.

"Showing tremendous improvement this year have been Chris Lowe, Griffin Ylagan, Sam Krebs and Stephen Williams," remarked coach Perachi. "Their work ethic and attitude are contagious, and they have been a pleasure to coach this season."

The Spartans are set Friday, Feb. 1 to visit Wamogo in Litchfield and will then host Lewis Mills Tuesday at Shepaug.

-- Norm Cummings

Photography by Norm Cummings

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