WILTON — Matt Kronenberg said when he and his brother Nick were just developing basketball players, there was a direct correlation between age and shooting distance.
“My father was pretty fundamental,” Matt said. “We went farther out as we got older. Eventually it just became the entire court.”
That is only a slight exaggeration. It would be scary enough to defend two players with seemingly limitless range. Imagine 10?
Actually you don’t have to. The Wilton boys basketball team performs twice a week, most Tuesday and Friday nights, and right now they are the hottest show in town, as evidenced by tonight’s 77-41 rout of better-than-they-were-made-to-look Staples.
“Staples came out in the 2-3 zone and that’s basically our bread and butter right there,” Matt Kronenberg said. “We have a bunch of corner shooters. Everyone from 1-14 is capable of scoring. Everyone can knock down 3.”
The Warriors made 13 3-pointers — led by Nick Kronenberg’s five — as they jumped out to a 27-7 lead just 10 minutes in, and that was after Staples opened the game with a 3-point shot.
Wilton won a non-league meeting between the teams, 81-62, on Dec. 29, and the Wreckers went to a zone for the rematch. The hope was it would be a die-by-the-3 night.
“We haven’t had it happen yet,” Wilton coach Joel Geriak said of seeing a zone. “I had a feeling we might because of the first time and they might change it up on us. When they did I have pretty good shooters. And you can’t get to the rim as much in a zone. In the first game we got to the rim a lot. So we sat and shot 3s.”
When the Warriors missed, long rebounds seemed to carom their way. Reload.
Wilton has a few players who clear 6-feet on tippy toes, but has become much more assertive going for the ball. It helps when missed shots are coming out beyond the paint.
“This year we are rebounding better than we ever have,” Geriak said.
And Wilton’s defensive effort went under the radar because of the offensive fireworks.
Nick Kronenberg finished with 19 points to lead the Warriors, who improved to 7-0. Matt Kronenberg and Kyle Maatallah added 12 points apiece, while Scott Cunningham finished with 11 and Jack Williams had 9.
“When we play at home it is a whole different atmosphere,” Matt Kronenberg said. “We play a little bit better. We are really coming together. We are a really experienced team, we are deep and everyone can contribute. It is certainly a lot more fun. Anyone can knock down any shot. We all play within the system, we all play bigger than we actually are.”
Williams missed the start of the season as he nears the complete recovery from a torn ACL. He got his most playing time tonight. The extra minutes spent on the bench so far has given him a different insight into the team.
“The biggest difference is trust,” Williams said. “We are trusting players a lot more than we did last year. We are sharing the ball. Allowing other players to make plays. That’s not what we did last year. We wouldn’t make the extra pass.”
Williams said it would not be inaccurate to say there were moments of selfishness last year, even as Wilton reached the FCIAC semifinals and came a game away from its first final.
The players know they were league darlings because of the program’s unheralded past, and their up-tempo style.
The bar has been set as high as the team’s shooting range is long. The stakes are greater. More so the expectations.
“We set that goal ever since last year,” Matt Kronenberg said. “We knew we were going to be one of the top teams but we still have to stay humble. We can’t let this hype get to us.”
Added Geriak, “They know the X is on their back. The FCIAC championship is where we want to be so we will see how it goes.”