NEW BRITAIN - The season of firsts continues for the Innovation boys basketball program.
After securing the program’s first state tournament berth and winning their first conference tournament crown earlier this season, the Ravens added another significant milestone to the list Monday night - winning their first state tournament game.
Carlos Gonzalez scored a game-high 21 points, while Malcolm Lewis and Lester Emmanuel added 10 points apiece as No. 11 Innovation beat No. 22 Woodland 55-44 in the first round of the Division V state tournament.
“We talked about goals for the season and this was one of them,” Ravens head coach Matt Lance said following the victory. “You win and you move on. After the game, the guys were excited and happy, but you could tell they were ready to move on. But definitely happy to get that first tournament win for the program.”
What made the victory even more significant was the team’s turnaround, particularly offensively, between the first half and the second.
Led by Gonzalez’s four 3-pointers in the third quarter, Innovation (15-8) nearly tripled its output from the first half over the final two quarters.
“What we talked about at halftime was staying with things defensively despite not hitting our shots on the offensive end [in the first half],” Lance said. I told them, ‘if we keep playing good defense and start hitting those shots, it’s going to open up.’”
The Ravens also got strong play from their bigs.
“Really happy with how Lester and Clinton [Allen] did,” Lance said. “Clinton was making some nice passes in the middle of their zone that really helped.”
Innovation will take on No. 6 Parish Hill (15-5) in the second round on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools with the Ravens winning the first three, including the CRAL championship last Tuesday 56-53.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
No. 11 Innovation 55, No. 22Woodland 44
Woodland 9 6 16 13 - 44
Innovation 2 12 22 19 - 55
WOODLAND: Kyle Macek 2-0-5, Zack Bedryczuk 7-3-20, Michael Meier 4-3-12, Mike Szturma 0-2-2, Jack LaPerriere 2-1-5. Totals: 15-9-44.
INNOVATION: Malcolm Lewis 2-6-10, Carlos Gonzalez 7-3-21, Lester Emmanuel 5-0-10, Remiesh Bogle 0-2-2, Lenny Okonya 4-0-8, Clinton Allen 2-0-4. Totals: 20-11-55.
3-Point Goals: Gonzalez (I) 4, Macek (W), Bedryczuk (W) 3, Meier (W).
Records: Innovation 15-8, Woodland 8-13.