NEW CANAAN, Conn. – During a two-week stretch in January, the New Canaan High School boys basketball team won nearly as many games as it had over the previous two seasons. Senior guard Andrew Read was a big reason why.
Read was selected The New Canaan Daily Voice Athlete of the Month after leading New Canaan to four victories in five games in January. The Rams enter the last few weeks of the season needing just three more victories to earn a state tournament berth for the first time since 2008-09.
In one of the Rams’ biggest wins, Read scored 17 points and hit seven-of-eight free throws in the fourth quarter in a 51-41 upset of Bassick. He had 23 points in a 58-50 overtime win over Darien and scored 17 in the Rams’ first win of the season, a 47-42 victory over Trumbull.
“He’s the heart and soul,’’ coach Mike Evans said. “He’s not extremely vocal, but he’s effective in leading by example right to the very end. Every game we’ve won has been by a couple of points, and he’s out there dripping with sweat and giving everything he has. That’s what we want the program to be about.”
One of Read’s best traits is that he wants the ball with the game on the line. He’s quick as well as a good ballhandler and foul shooter, all of which are critical in tight games.
“Playing youth basketball, I wanted the ball at the end of the game,’’ Read said. “The last couple of years, I didn’t demand it as much. I kind of deferred to upperclassmen. I think since I’m a senior, it has helped me become more comfortable asking for the ball at the end of the game.”
Evans was brought in last summer to revive a program that had gone through two coaches in each of the last two years, going just 7-33. He could not have asked for a better building block in Read, who bought into Evans’ demands immediately.
“He’s a good coach who really works us hard,’’ Read said. “We do a lot of drills to touch up our skills. It’s really intense at practice all the time. That’s something in the last couple of years that hasn’t been the case. He’s made practice a lot tougher, and it’s been beneficial.”
Read also played football for the Rams, where he caught 26 passes for three touchdowns last season. He sees similarities in the approach of Evans and Lou Marinelli, the school’s longtime football coach.
“I think Mike has very similar expectations,’’ Read said. “He’s trying to run his program like coach Marinelli. Mike’s a young coach who really wants to win and build a program. He just really wants everyone to work hard.”
New Canaan’s main objective is to get to the state tournament and need three wins in the final six games to achieve that goal. Under Evans, they are on the rise. Making the states in first year would be a nice reward for Evans and his senior leader.
“I think we can do it,’’ Read said. “There are a couple of tough games, it’s not going to be easy. I’m glad the way things have worked out in my senior year.”