By: Contributing PAL Parents and Players
February has arrived. With just two weeks until the end of the FCBL regular season and school vacation, the Westport PAL travel basketball teams have only a precious few remaining games to secure playoff positions. In games from February 1-3, 5G looked to stay undefeated, 5B looked to build on a seven game winning streak, 6B looked to continue its three game winning streak and 7B looked to extend its six game winning streak and continue its incredible climb all the way back to .500.
Westport PAL basketball teams will complete their regular season games this weekend or next, head out for a well-deserved break, and then return for FCBL playoffs that begin February 28.
Westport PAL 5G
The Westport PAL 5G girls remained undefeated and solidified their position at the top of the FCBL B division last weekend. Coach Karen Puskas’ squad has now played and won 17 games to begin their travel basketball careers, with only 3 games remaining in the regular season.
Last Saturday (2/2), 5G traveled to meet division opponent Weston. Defense has been the basis of 5G’s success all season and it remained so last Saturday, with 5G’s stifling pressure from multiple zone sets keeping Weston off balance as 5G prevailed (33-17).
5G plays twice this weekend, hosting Southbury on Saturday (2/9) before traveling to take on New Fairfield on Sunday.
Westport PAL 5B
The Westport PAL 5B boys began the weekend having won seven games in a row; however, with 3 games last weekend, 5B remained hungry for more.
On Friday evening (2/1), 5B ran its winning streak to eight with a high scoring shootout victory over Chelsea Piers-Westport (54-45). On Saturday, 5B took its winning streak on the road, traveling to St. Mary’s-Ridgefield. In a tempo reversal from Friday evening, 5B showed its defensive prowess, winning a low-scoring game (39-22) to run its winning streak to nine. Back in division on Sunday, 5B hosted Newtown. In a nip and tuck battle that went down to the wire, Newtown ended 5B’s winning streak (41-44). Despite the loss, 5B remains in the pack of the competitive FCBL 5 Boys A division.
Coach Charles Connor and 5B looks to start a new winning streak with a single game this weekend, hosting New Canaan on Sunday (2/10).
Westport PAL 6G
The Westport PAL 6G girls have played some excellent basketball this season and currently sport a record of 8 victories and 5 defeats. Under the leadership of Coach Johanna McNelis and Assistant Andy Lipman, 6G has had strong wins against Trumbull, New Canaan, Darien and Shelton. 6G’s toughest opponent to date has been the talented squad from Norwalk, which has defeated 6G twice this season. 6G’s success has been rooted in defense, ball movement and strong rebounding, especially on the offensive boards. While offense has been a challenge, 6G has improved recently, scoring over 30 points in its recent victory over Trumbull.
Last weekend, 6G played and won two nail biters. On Saturday (2/2), 6G faced a scrappy Darien YMCA team. Although 6G led the entire game, Darien never let the girls of 6G get comfortable up until the final horn of 6G’s four point victory (22-18).
On Sunday, 6G erupted for its highest offensive output of the season while facing a very aggressive Wilton team that stayed with 6G throughout the first half. In the third quarter, Wilton nailed a series of outside jumpers to take a ten-point lead into the fourth quarter; however, 6G would not be denied. Chipping away at the lead throughout the fourth quarter, 6G went ahead by two with less than a minute to play; however, Wilton fought back to tie the score with twenty seconds left and forced overtime. In the overtime, 6G’s defense was relentless, holding Wilton scoreless and silencing the raucous Wilton crowd on the way to a satisfying victory (46-38). In the overtime win, point guard Ellie F. exploded for 30 of 6G’s 46 points, reminding 6G foes that “you can’t stop Ellie F., you can only hope to contain her.”
6G looks to stay steady on defense and keep improving on offense as it plays three of its remaining four regular season games this weekend. On Friday evening (2/8), 6G hosts the Stamford Young Timers. On Saturday, 6G hosts Wilton and on Sunday 6G hosts Shelton.
Westport PAL 6B
Coach Shuan Malone and the Westport PAL 6B boys are playing their best basketball of the season, rising to third place in the competitive FCBL A East division, and poised to finish the season strongly. 6B now sports a record of 11 victories and 4 losses (4-2 in division). With three victories on the road last weekend, 6B has now won five games in a row.
Last Friday evening (2/1), 6B got the weekend off to a good start by traveling to and holding off the Darien YMCA in a hard-fought two-point game (66-64). On Saturday, 6B turned up the intensity and sprinted away from Weston (66-36). And on Sunday, the 6B “road warriors” headed up I-95 and came away with a tight, high-scoring victory over Fairfield Hoops (62-57).
6B looks to extend its winning streak and its reputation as a tough team on the road when it plays 3 games. On Friday evening (2/8), 6B travels to take on Bridgeport Trumbull Gardens before a rare double-header on Sunday. In the early afternoon on Sunday, 6B travels to take on Madison Black before returning to finish the weekend at home against Fairfield PAL Stags.
Westport PAL 7G
After a rare mid-season break last weekend, the Westport PAL 7G girls remain firmly situated in the thick of the FCBL A division at 9 wins and 5 losses.
Back in action this weekend, Coach Chris Scholz takes 7G on the road to meet Wilton on Saturday (2/9), before hosting Trumbull on Sunday.
Westport PAL 7B
When a team loses its first eight games of the season, no one would blame coaches, players, families or fans from thinking that the season was already over. The Westport PAL 7B boys, coaches Vinnie Rissolo and Andrew Strauss, families and fans had other ideas. After an incredible turn-around that is testament to hard work and perseverance, 7B pushed all the way to the top of the FCBL B Jim Callahan division. Following an incredible seventh consecutive victory, 7B moved to 10 wins and 2 losses in division, evening its overall record at 10 wins and 10 losses on the season.
7B ran its winning streak to seven last Friday evening (2/1) against Redding-Easton (41-24) with constant defensive pressure, crisp passing and timely shooting.
7B goes outside its division this weekend, hosting the Darien YMCA on Friday evening (2/8) before traveling to take on the Stamford Youth on Sunday.
Westport PAL 8G
Coaches Sam DiLeo and Kasey Keegan looked to take the Westport PAL 8G ladies outside of the FCBL B division last weekend in two games against A division opponents. 8G did not disappoint, holding it close against A division leader St. Mary’s-Ridgefield and defeating Greenwich B&G Club to raise its record to 14 victories, 4 losses and 1 tie. 8G remains near the top of the FCBL B division as the playoffs approach.
Last Friday evening (2/1), 8G had a tall order against A division leader St. Mary’s-Ridgefield. In a nip and tuck battle throughout, good defense by both teams kept each from building a safe lead. The see-saw battle had 8G out to an early lead that it was ultimately unable to hold as St. Mary’s-Ridgefield showed its talent in pulling out the four-point victory (19-23). Hoping to avoid a losing streak, 8G found its offensive flow while maintaining its defensive pressure against Greenwich, getting out to a lead that it never relinquished (33-28).
8G stays in the A division on Friday evening (2/8), hosting Wilton, before traveling and playing back in division in a battle for second place against the Stamford Young-Timers on Sunday afternoon.
Westport PAL 8B
The familiar refrain of Coach Glenn O’Neill to his Westport PAL 8B boys has been “there are no easy games in the FCBL A division this season.” With games last weekend against teams higher in the standings, and without talented forward Sean Pritchett due to a potentially season-ending ankle injury, 8B tested the adage and looked to move up as the playoffs approach.
On Friday evening (2/1), 8B laced them up against familiar foe New Canaan Black. In one of 8B’s most consistent and balanced performances of the season, 8B prevailed (57-51). 8B scored the first 4 points of the game, fell behind, but then found a groove to go toe-to-toe with New Canaan. New Canaan’s talented trio, led by scoring swing man Tyler Sweeney and assisted by do everything James Crovatto and steady rebounder Timmy Russo, made 8B work for everything. But 8B was up to the challenge on this night, led by strong contributions on the offensive and defensive ends from Mack Muller. Balance was again on display for 8B as it got contributions from everyone up and down the roster in the six point victory.
On Sunday, 8B faced Darien. In another back and forth contest, Darien led by four after the first quarter, by nine at halftime and by six after three quarters. Unfortunately, Darien’s combination of tough inside defense led by the shot-blocking, shot-altering and rebounding of Alex Preston, complimented by the shooting and slashing of Darien’s guards and small forwards, wore down 8B and Darien prevailed (47-59). In the loss, Mack Muller completed a strong weekend by leading 8B with 15 points, 1 rebound and 1 block. Ben Casparius (14 points. 2 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block), Justin Seideman (8 points, 2 steals and a handful of assists) and Ryan Fitton (4 points and 6 rebounds) rounded out 8B’s leaders in Sunday’s defeat.
In a pair of home games, 8B goes out of division this weekend. On Friday evening (2/8), 8B hosts Weston Gold. On Sunday, St. Theresa-Trumbull visits Westport.