NEW BRITAIN -Matt Lance has seen the Innovation boys basketball program come a long way over the past three seasons.
In the head coach’s first year - also the team’s first varsity season - the Ravens failed to win a single game. Now, Innovation is heading to the postseason for the first time and is CRAL Tournament champion to boot.
The Ravens beat Parish Hill 56-53 Tuesday night to earn their first conference title.
“You look at where our program was two years ago with two victories and then the merging of the schools [between us and Two Rivers], there was talk if of how well we were even going to play coming into the season,’ Lance said. “But our guys played unselfishly the whole season. I’m happy for where our program has gone, but I’m happier for our guys because of what they were able to do.”
Innovation got key contributions on the offensive end from Carlos Gonzalez, Lenny Okonya, Malcolm Lewis and Lester Emmanuel. Gonzalez finished with a team-high 15 points, while Okonya scored 11 points with Lewis and Emmanuel each adding 10 points apiece.
But for Lance, the standout was Remeish Bogle. Although he provided four points, Bogle did plenty on the defensive end of the court.
“This was definitely a team win, but the one who brought the toughness for us was Remeish. He was by far the best defender of the game,” Lance said. “Anytime there was a loose ball on the floor, he’s go for it. He gave our team a lot of energy.”
Now at 14-8 on the season, the Ravens will get ready for the Division V state tournament. But the team will enjoy this win for a few days first.
“We set goals during the season and this was something we wanted to do,” Lance said. “We’re going to enjoy this before getting ready for the state tournament because after this, the guys are going to be hungry for more.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CRAL Title Game
Innovation 56, Parish Hill 53
Parish Hill 8 14 22 9 - 53
Innovation 11 15 16 14 - 56
PARISH HILL: Tommy Lehue 5-0-12, Mike Raha 2-0-5, Zach Mihok 6-2-18, Henry Tianard 2-0-4, Tyise Spreag 2-0-11, Kyle Zimas 1-0-3. Totals: 19-4-53.
Malcolm Lewis 4-0-10, Carlos Gonzalez 4-3-15, Lester Emmanuel 4-0-10, Andres Sterling 2-2-6, Remeish Bogle 2-0-4, Lenny Okonya 3-4-11. Totals: 19-9-56.
3-Point Goals: Lehue (PH) 2, Rahal (PH), Mihok (PH) 4, Zimas (PH), Lewis (I) 2, Gonzalez (I) 4, Okonya (I).
Records: Innovation 14-8, Parish 16-6.