MERIDEN — We return to the “Best of the Bunch” series and turn to a season that was left unfinished.
When the CIAC, getting ahead of the coronavirus curve, canceled what remained of the winter postseason on March 10, only one night of the boys basketball tournament had been played.
Sheehan’s Garrett Molampy and his dad, sitting on their front stoop on the first night of June, were still talking about what the Titans might have been able to do in Division III after blowing out New London 72-49 in the first round.
Jared Kelly, Jake Napoli and the Southington Blue Knights never even got a chance to take the tournament floor. Their first game in Division II was supposed to have been played that Tuesday night in Southbury.
Only Vincent Martinez and the Maloney Spartans had closure.
Not that they wanted it. Their Division III game with St. Paul was a thriller. It also went to St. Paul, 64-61.
We mention these four guys, All-Record-Journal selections to a man, because we’re bringing them all back as finalists for our Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Three of the four were All-Conference. The odd man out — Napoli — probably should have been.
Three of the four led their teams in scoring. The odd man out — Kelly — was edged by Napoli by one point per game.
Those two Blue Knights were indivisible these past two years. Thus, they go out together as Player of the Year nominees.
Molampy goes out as a 1,000-point scorer, the only one in the area’s basketball Class of 2020, male or
Martinez? He stays in the gym. Maloney’s six-foot junior point guard, a varsity standout since his freshman year, still has a year to go.
This season, Martinez was the area’s leading scorer at 18 points per game. He was named All-CCC South and All-Record-Journal for a second straight year.
The longer the winter wore on, the hotter Martinez got. He went off for a season-high 35 points against New Milford on Feb. 8 and twice hit for 30 or more later that month.
Combined with the 359 points he scored in his first season as a Spartan after transferring from Platt, Martinez is standing on 737 for his Maloney career.
At Sheehan, Molampy checked out with 1,137 career points.
Molampy reached the 1,000 milestone on Feb. 27 with a 28-point game at Notre Dame-West Haven.
The tougher the competition, the tougher Molampy seemed to play. Some of his best games came against the SCC’s Catholic schools — Xavier, Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame. Sheehan was in the same division with all three.
Molampy’s season high of 35 points came on Jan. 13 against Xavier.
For the season, the 6-foot-1 guard led Sheehan with a 16.8 average and hit for 40 percent from 3-point range.
Molampy was named All-RJ for a third time and, in the All-SCC ranks, went from Second Team as a junior to First Team as a senior.
Molampy is going on to Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. He’ll study engineering. He will not be playing basketball.
Kelly and Napoli, meanwhile, are going to school in Massachusetts — Kelly at Dean College, Napoli at Bentley University. Kelly will play basketball at Dean. Napoli is eying a walk-on attempt at Bentley — in golf, the other sport in which he was All-RJ in high school.
On the hardwood, Napoli and Kelly combined for better than 33 points a game in their final Southington season.
The two guards almost never left the court. They averaged nearly 30 minutes. High school games, barring overtime, go for 32.
Both were gunners, each shooting better than 39 percent from 3-point range.
The 6-foot-2 Napoli averaged a team-high 16.8 points and shot team-best 45.3 percent from the floor. He hit 48 treys, snagged 26 steals and grabbed 5.3 rebounds a game.
Napoli was also his team’s
R-J Scholar-Athlete. He graduated ranked No. 19 in Southington’s Class of 2020.
As for the 6-foot-1 Kelly, he averaged 15.5 points and knocked down a team-high 55 treys. He was also Southington’s leading playmaker with 57 assists and its defensive leader with 31 steals.
The Record-Journal “Best of the Bunch” awards video airs on Thursday, June 18 on Facebook at 6:30 p.m. and will be available on myrecordjournal.com after that initial airing. Finalists in the various awards categories will be unveiled now through June 18. Up next: Girls Basketball.