WILTON, Conn. – After losing its first three games, the Wilton’s boys basketball team needed a jolt to quickly turn its season around. Senior Olondi LeGrand supplied it.
LeGrand had two strong games for the Warriors in helping them win the Wilton Holiday Tournament. For his efforts, he was named The Wilton Daily Voice Athlete of the Month.
Wilton (3-3) defeated Newtown in the tournament opener, 62-52. The Warriors’ 66-53 win over highly regarded Kolbe-Cathedral of Bridgeport in the championship game sent shock waves around the state's basketball world.
Led by LeGrand’s 15 points and 13 rebounds, Wilton handed the Cougars their first loss of the season. The Warriors and LeGrand continued to roll Jan. 4 against St. Joseph, thumping the Cadets 67-46.
The turnaround came suddenly, but LeGrand said the team just needed time to make early-season adjustments.
“Going into the Kolbe game, I expected us to win,’’ he said. “Coming off the win the day before against Newtown, it seemed like we were just playing differently, with more confidence. I don’t know if it was us just trusting each other more or what, but we all felt like we were playing a little bit better.”
Wilton went 11-12 last season and made the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference and Class L state tournaments. But the Warriors lost a lot from last season, including leading scorer Chris Nugent and four other seniors. Coach Tim Tallcouch moved to Newtown.
Joel Geriak took over as the coach of a team that lacked size and had limited experience. Led by LeGrand and Max Maudsley, Weston Wilbur and Chris Curtis, the Warriors have emerged as a force. Junior Eric Houska leads a balanced scoring attack with 15.7 points per game, but everybody chips in.
“We’re a lot smaller team than we were last year, but we have a higher basketball IQ,’’ LeGrand said. “We expect a lot more, and we expect to be good.”
Much of the credit goes to Geriak, a former player at Westhill in Stamford who worked as an assistant under Jeff Bussey at New Canaan before being appointed to the job in Wilton. “He knows so much about basketball,’’ LeGrand said. “There’s no part that he doesn’t explain perfectly. He knows so much about the game.”
LeGrand, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., lives in Wilton during the school year through A Better Chance program. The program provides access for teens to get better educational opportunities.
“It’s a lot quieter, but I love it here,’’ he said. “I like the change of scenery from the city. It takes a while to get used to not seeing my mom every day, and my brothers and sister. It felt good to go home for the holidays.”
After stumbling out of the gate, the Warriors now look like a team that can