WILTON — There are certain teams that have such distinct styles that when you link their names to the sport they become easily recognizable.
Like Wilton basketball.
The translation is fast ball movement, unselfish play, extra passes, strong perimeter shooting and assertive defense.
With changes in personnel, the Warriors have taken time adapting to the technique that has elevated the program the last five years, but tonight, in one of their biggest games of the regular season, it all came together. The result was an impressive and resounding 79-62 home win over Fairfield Warde.
Kyle Hyzy, who scored 14 points and was integral to the outcome, said it was the team’s best performance this season.
“Offensively and defensively it was,” Hyzy said. “They hit some shots but that’s to be expected, they are a good shooting team. We rebounded well, shared the ball well. We are all looking to contribute. Making the open pass is what we all strive for.”
The Warriors (8-2, 5-1 FCIAC), getting an important win as the jockeying for position in the standings begins to take shape, made 11 3-point shots and had four players in double figures.
“They got open threes, got open looks, drove the floor, played pretty good defense and that’s how we’ve played the last few games,” said Wilton coach Joel Geriak. “They’re definitely getting better day by day and they are thinking they should win games now rather than hoping they would. Hopefully we will get better and be ready for the stretch run.”
The Warriors have won three in a row. They started the week by topping 70 points in a road win against St. Joseph, which was unbeaten in league play.
“The kids are playing better and buying in and the main thing you can see is they’re having fun,” Geriak said. “When you are having fun good things happen.”
Andrew Smith made four 3-pointers and led Wilton with 20 points. Zayvion Eusebe added 12 points and Ryan Biberon finished with 11.
“We want to push tempo all game,” Hyzy said. “We’re conditioned well and just finding the open man. We pride ourselves on the defensive end and that’s what creates our offense.”
Smith hit a 3 with 36 seconds left in the first quarter to put Wilton ahead, 12-10, a lead it would never lose. The Warriors took control with a 9-2 run before halftime, fueled by consecutive steals by Hyzy that he converted into layups, for a 35-26 lead.
Wilton built the advantage to 56-35 late in the third quarter. Warde went to a press that ignited a 10-0 run, but once the Warriors solved it they answered with 11 straight points, including three 3-pointers in just over a minute.
“A credit to Wilton, they made their shots,” Warde coach Ryan Swaller said. “They were open, but they made them. They move the ball and they trust each other and it shows. They do a great job of making the extra pass. They have enough presence down low this year you have to respect it.”
The game was a reversal of the teams’ meeting 364 days ago, when the Mustangs won on their home court, 75-58, with Matt Houghton scoring 24 points all on 3-point shots.
Houghton made six tonight and finished with 20 points, but Warde (6-3, 4-2), which finished with 13 3-pointers, was unable to keep up and could not defend the perimeter.
“We’ve had games, and I’ve told them, when you have a team that can play good for three or four quarters we can’t have bad quarters, and we had tough offensive quarters,” Swaller said. “It’s a learning experience. We’re getting better.”
The Warriors’ play with the ball overshadowed their job without it.
“We still win with defense,” Geriak said. “We got upset that they scored as much as they did. But we’re living off each other now, which is fun.”