Brantley, Vereen lead the way

Bernard Brantley scored 21 points and Marcus Vereen had 16 to lead the Stratford High boys basketball team to a 60-37 SWC win over Masuk High in Monroe on Thursday night.
Stratford (9-7), behind runs of 9-1 and 11-6, extended its 33-26 halftime lead to 53-30 after three periods.
Vereen assisted on 3-of-4 Red Devil 3-pointers to start the game and then stepped back and made a trey of his own.
Masuk (7-10), still in need of one more win to qualify for states, saw Patrick Cheever and Matt Gerak answer with treys of their own and Dominic Migliaro bank in a runner.
Brantley scored his first trey and Vereen another, but the Panthers stayed with a basket.
Arron Smith rebounded back his own shot for a five-point lead at the 1:45 mark, Brantley collected a loose ball and turned it into a layup, and Eric Rankin gave Stratford a 21-19 lead after one with a pair of free throws.
Rankin scored from every area of the court and finished with nine-first half points, and Stratford benefitted from the fine play of Nick DiIulio, Will Hudson, Anthony Moncovich and Patrick Lepesko to rule the backboards.
Stratford took the second quarter, 12-7, as Rankin scored two buckets, Brantley went 3-for-4 from the line, and Mike McClean and Vereen also tallied.
Masuk’s first field goal of the second period came with two minutes remaining on a Gerak drive to the rim.
In the meantime, Stratford had built a 31-22 lead.
During the six-minute span, Masuk’s Dan Cahill made a pair from the line and Ryan Fitzpatrick one. Five missed shots and five turnovers accounted for the other Panther trips down the court.
Stratford led 33-26 at the half.
Emmanuel Young came in to help secure the ball in the backcourt, and Sam Breiner added a defensive presence, as Stratford dominated the third quarter.
Masuk’s offensive production didn’t improve in the third stanza, as Stratford used a trapping defense and quickness in open space to go on a 16-4 run.
The Red Devils scored the first nine points of the period before Cahill stopped the streak with a free throw.
During that stretch, Brantley scored five points, including a trey off a kickout pass from the baseline by Vereen, who added the other four markers.
The Panthers, who went 7-for-13 from the line overall, missed 3-of-4 from the stripe on their next two possessions, and it was 49-28 when Fitzpatrick scored with 1:19 left in the frame.
Brantley scored five more points in the frame, including a three-point play, Rankin had a blocked shot, and Moncovich drew a charge.
Masuk’s Migliaro swished a 3-pointer, but Stratford took a 20-point lead into the final frame.
Stratford will host Newtown High (8-9) tonight at 7, travel to Pomperaug High (5-12) in Southbury on Friday, and return home to complete the regular season opposite Oxford High (3-12) on Tuesday.

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