Justin Ciaglo, Hopkins Academy go deep to beat Wahconah in Hoophall Classic

Thursday, January 11, 2018

SPRINGFIELD — Justin Ciaglo’s 3-pointer clanked off the front-left part of the Blake Arena rim.

There were 5 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in Hopkins Academy’s boys basketball game against Wahconah in the Hoophall Classic. It was his first miss from behind the arc.

“I felt it when I shot it, I felt it kind of go, but I wasn’t thinking about it, I was ready to get the ball next play,” Ciaglo said.

He hit another 3 two minutes later, his sixth of the game in seven attempts. Ciaglo finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds in a 63-47 win.

“I felt good when I came out, so it felt like I was going to have a good game,” Ciaglo said.

Hopkins (7-1) shot the 3 well as a team. The Golden Hawks made 11 of 17 from deep, led by Ciaglo’s six. John Earle (17 points) made three, while Nate Kelley and Braedon Tudryn each had one.

Earle’s “really good at knowing when I’m open and knowing when he’s open,” Ciaglo said. “We work well together.”

Hopkins took its time settling into the game. The Golden Hawks practiced for Wahconah’s extended 2-3 zone, but they still trailed 18-16 after a quarter.

“It takes like a quarter for us to get familiarized with them,” Hopkins coach Angelo Thomas said. “Then we just decide to play.”

Jon Morrison (11 points, five rebounds) opened the second quarter with a free throw, then Earle canned a 3 to give Hopkins its first lead 20-18. Earle received the inbounds pass then brought the ball across half court. He passed to Kelley on his right, who quickly returned the ball, then Earle fed Tudryn on his left. Wahconah’s defense shaded to Ciaglo, and Tudryn kicked the ball back to Earle for a straight-on 3.

“Whoever’s on the outside is told ‘move the ball,’ and that’s really what broke down the defense for us,” Ciaglo said.

Hopkins then ripped off a 10-3 run over the next 5:21, building a double-digit lead before Chad Howes made two free throws with 2:04 left to halftime.

“Normally we’re able to survive with our defense, but they were knocking shots down,” Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. “They’ve got a lot of weapons over there.”

Wahconah (5-2) scored eight points in the third quarter, and Hopkins held the Warriors to just six points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.

Morrison added an exclamation point with a two-handed, rim-grazing dunk through contact with 1:31 left. He made the free throw to put the Golden Hawks up 63-42 before Thomas cleared his bench.

Hopkins had three players in double figures and six players score.

“Every team really only has one or two good defenders, you choose who you want to guard. Hopefully every game one of those guys is hot,” Thomas said. “There you go, you’ve got a recipe for something. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.