Masuk High still needs one more victory to earn a spot in the state playoffs, after Stratford High came to Monroe and left town with a 60-37 SWC boys basketball victory on Thursday night.
The Panthers (7-10) will complete the regular season with a visit to New Fairfield (5-11), home to Newtown High (8-9) on Friday and on the road at Weston High (8-9) on Tuesday.
Dominic Migliaro scored nine points, Dan Cahill eight and the recently returned Matt Gerak had five markers for Masuk, which stayed with the revamped Red Devils (9-7) for a half.
Stratford had star guard Bernard Brantley back after missing a few weeks with an injury, and the senior scored 21 points.
The Red Devils opened the game by making three straight 3-pointers, but Masuk’s Patrick Cheever and Gerak answered with treys of their own and Migliaro banked in a runner.
Migliaro’s great pass back to Dan Cahill, while crossing the lane, resulted in a bucket and David Clarke split two defenders to score.
Stratford stayed one basket ahead despite a brace of free throws by Clarke and a baseline jumper from Chris Butler.
The Red Devils took a 21-19 lead after one quarter.
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, Cahill made a pair from the line and Ryan Fitzpatrick one. Five missed shots and five turnovers accounted for the other trips down the court.
The Panther defense limited Stratford to two free throws in the final 3:13 and Matt Hornak buried a baseline jumper to keep the game within reach at 33-26 heading into the locker room.
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.
The Panthers, who went 7-for-13 from the line, 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.
Migliaro swished a 3-pointer, but Stratford took a 20-point lead into the final frame.