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ALL-RECORD-JOURNAL BOYS BASKETBALL: A small, select band of brothers

ALL-RECORD-JOURNAL BOYS BASKETBALL: A small, select band of brothers

reporter photo

MERIDEN — Our final All-Record-Journal team from the 2019-20 winter season is our smallest.

It’s a tight band of basketball brothers, and it’s good one. Just six: five starters and a sixth man.

Who’s the sixth man? Doesn’t really matter. We’d rotate on the All-Record-Journal Boys Basketball Team. Every player on this squad is a worthy starter for anyone.

All six averaged 15 points or better this season.  Each played a major role in his team reaching the postseason. Five were All-Conference. The sixth should have been.

You’ve already looked at the photo, no doubt, and seen that half of the All-RJ team is from Sheehan. The Titans posted the area’s best regular-season record at 13-7, with all but one of those losses coming against the SCC’s parochial powers in the grueling Housatonic Division.

Coach Joe Gaetano’s guys made it 14-7 in advancing to the second round of the Division III state tournament with an impressive 72-49 rout of New London.

In the same Division III tournament, Maloney lost a 64-61 thriller in Bristol against St. Paul. The Spartans finished 11-10 in their first season under head coach Dave Parness.

And then there was Southington, which reached the state tournament at 10-10. Coach John Cessario’s Blue Knights, though, never played a postseason game. Their Division II tourney, along with Division IV, was scheduled to open Tuesday night, March 10. That morning, the CIAC, ahead of the curve on the coronavirus crisis, cancelled what remained of the winter postseason.

And with that, the careers of four of our six All-RJ players, including our lone 1,000-point scorer, were over.

We expect our two underclassmen to pass that milestone at some point next season. Though only juniors, they’ve already made All-RJ twice. 

So did two of our seniors. Like we said, it’s a select band. Our players can step out and take the lead without losing that sense of team rhythm. That’s what makes our band such a good one.

Maloney’s main man

He was here last year and he’s back again as the area’s leading scorer.

Maloney junior point guard Vincent Martinez, truly one of the best around at that position, averaged 18 points over 21 games this season.

That gave him 378 points. Combined with the 359 he scored last year in his first season as a Spartan after transferring from Platt, Martinez is standing on 737 for his Maloney career.

He had a season-high 35 versus New Milford on Feb. 8, one of three times he hit for 30 points or more in a single game in the month of February. No doubt, the longer the season went on, the larger the six-foot point guard loomed.

Along with returning to the All-RJ team, Martinez was named All-CCC South for a second year in a row

Knights’ 1-2 punch

Jake or Jared, Jared or Jake: Take your pick. On any given night, Jake Napoli or Jared Kelly was leading the way for the Southington Blue Knights.

More often that not, it was the two senior guards in combination. They almost never left the court. Both averaged just under 30 minutes a game.

Both could score in bunches. Both could shoot with tremendous accuracy, including from 3-point range. In that department, both were better than 39 percent.

Napoli averaged a team-high 16.8 points a game shooting a team-best 45.3 percent from the floor. He hit 48 treys, snagged 26 steals and, at 6-foot-2, mixed it up inside, grabbing 5.3 rebounds a game, second best on the team. 

Kelly, a two-time All-CCC West and All-RJ selection, finished his career averaging 15.5 points in his senior year.

The 6-foot-1 guard led the Blue Knights with 55 treys. He was also Southington’s leading playmaker with 57 assists and its defensive leader with 31 steals.

Sheehan’s Big 3

A quality rotation carried the Titans to their final record of 14-7. Captain Tyler Carmen and fellow seniors Stanley Franzik, Tyler Guercia, Arthur Cordes, Brett Stasiewski and Derek Vansteenburgh all made valuable contributions.

Ultimately, though, it was the Big 3 of senior Garrett Molampy, senior Kris Jackson and junior Jack McDonnell who did the heaviest lifting. All three were named All-SCC. All three are All-RJ.

For Molampy, it’s his third turn around our block. The 6-foot-1 guard goes out as the area’s lone 1,000-point scorer in the Class of 2020.

Molampy hit the milestone the night of Feb. 27 with a 28-point performance at Notre Dame-West Haven. By the end of the line, he had 1,137 career points.

An All-SCC First Team selection, Molampy led the Titans with a 16.8 scoring average. His season high of 35 came on Jan. 13 against Xavier. The kid definitely has a touch. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range.

As impressive as Molampy’s scoring numbers are, he actually didn’t have Sheehan’s single-game high this year. That belonged to Jackson, who put up 36 against North Haven on Feb. 4.

Jackson averaged 15.2 points per game. The 6-foot-4 big man also pulled down 6.4 rebounds a night.

A first-time All-RJ selection, Jackson was named to the All-SCC Second Team.

So was McDonnell. Don’t be surprised to see him elevated to First Team a year from now.

A standout dating back to his freshman season, McDonnell averaged 15.3 points this year. He scored 20 or more on six occasions, including a season-high 29 against the North Haven Indians the same night Jackson torched them for 36.

The aptly named McDonnell truly is a Jack of all trades. The 6-foot-2 guard was a catalyst at the both ends of the floor, supplementing his scoring with a a team-high 7.1 rebounds a game. He was good for three assists and steals a game.

The two-time All-RJ pick will take 905 career points into his senior season. We’ve got it marked on next season’s calendar, Jack. We’ll be looking to get the band back together.

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