It’s been a long season for the Seymour High boys basketball team, but on Monday night at the Wildcats’ Den the seniors got to go out in style with a satisfying 68-58 win over Amistad Academy of New Haven.
Senior Mike Conlan led the way, recording a triple-double with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Senior Mike Tuscano scored a game-high 19 points and classmate Jim Vartelas turned in a blue-collar effort with 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Junior Tyler Stevens was the fourth double scorer for the Wildcats, knocking down 10 points, as Seymour picked up its second win of the season.
“Mike Conlan is a real leader on this team and we missed him early in the season with an injury,” Seymour head coach Joe Carrafiello said.
“Mike Tuscano is also a leader on this team, but we just couldn’t make up the difference with injuries and got off to a slow start to the year.
“Then, we started to drop one game after another and it just unraveled from there. But, these seniors have spent four years on this court and they should be proud to walk out of here for the final time with a win.”
In spite of how the season unfolded, the ’Cats came out intent on hanging this one in the win column.
Conlan set the tone coming away with five steals in the opening period and scored the game’s first three baskets.
Amistad was forced into 10 turnovers in the period, as Seymour raced up and down the floor to build an 8-0 advantage before the Wolves got on the scoreboard.
A Markese Wright (14 points) basket at 3:51 just set off another Seymour run, as Tuscano stepped behind the arc and buried a 3-pointer.
Stevens swiped an advance and knocked one in off the window before Ian Hardman came on and took one to the rack and then hit the ensuing free throw. Amistad staggered to a timeout trailing 16-2 with 3:10 to go in the period.
“We knew we had to come out and take over the game early,” Conlan said. “If you let a team like Amistad hang around long enough they could make a run on you.
“There was no way we were going out of here without a win. We spent four seasons here and we have had our ups and downs. But, it sure feels good to leave this gym on a winning note.”
The Wildcats kept the pressure on, and when Vartelas hit a picture-perfect turn-around jumper in the lane, Seymour was in control 22-9 heading into the second period.
Amistad had some tools, with Dion Stephenson putting down 16 points and Neville Williams chipping in with 14 points, but it couldn’t get a handle on the boards.
Christian Thurmond was a force in the paint for the ’Cats, yanking down eight boards.
Vartelas continued to earn his share of rebounds with a pair of putbacks to open up a 29-12 Seymour lead.
Sean Mazuik, Dylan O’Hara and senior Nick Reilly added to the Seymour presence in the paint, and the Wildcats headed to the locker room in command, 38-19.
The Wolves began to put some points on the board and outscored Seymour 37-30 in the second half, but they needed to do a little more than just trade baskets at that point.
Seymour continued to run the floor and cruised into the final period holding a 53-33 lead.
Carrafiello pulled in the reigns at that point and gave the bench a good workout.
The Wildcats showed what they have coming back for next season, as they received inspired play from junior Williams Wiacek, sophomores Matt Vartelas and Brandon Otero, along with freshman Tushar Spooner.
Amistad managed to cut 10 points off the deficit down the stretch, but Seymour was never in danger as it was out in front by 20 points with under two minutes to play.
“We have some real strong players coming back, including Tyler (Stevens) our leading scorer at 18 points a game,” Carrafiello said.
“We have a lot of our big guys back that will give us some players underneath. With a little more experience we are going to be all right.”
Seymour wraps up the season at Wolcott (11-7) tonight.