Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team nearly erased an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter but a late-game comeback fell just short in a season-opening 51-49 loss to visiting New Fairfield on December 19.
This was a foul-filled contest and both teams saw the outcome literally on the line — the free throw line — down the stretch. All told, the host Nighthawks shot 9 of 20 from the line, and the Rebels were 13 for 23.
Down 46-38 with 2:53 to play in the game, Newtown got closer when Charlie Huegi came away with a steal and, upon being fouled, hit both free throws — made possible by converting the front end of a one and one. After the Rebels missed a front-end one and one foul shot, Jake Ball got the Nighthawks within 46-43 with a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:25 to go.
A Julian Dunn takeaway led to another foul — both teams were over the limit and, eventually New Fairfield got into the double bonus at the free throw line. Huegi made another clutch front-end one and one shot, but missed the second. It was 46-44 Rebels with 2:04 to play.
Ball, trying to come up with a steal, was whistled for a foul and the Rebels moved back in front by four on a pair of free throws.
Ball got to a long rebound and stepped behind the 3-point arc to drain a shot from straightaway, pulling the Hawks to within a point, 48-47 with 1:31 left. The Rebels went back up by three points and the Hawks had a pair of possessions with chances to pull back to within one or tie the score thanks to their tough defense forcing a traveling violation on the Rebels. But Newtown couldn’t dig into the deficit. Another New Fairfield foul shot extended the lead to 51-47 with 11 seconds left.
Huegi had a mostly uncontested layup to make it a one-possession contest again, with 4.4 seconds to play. Newtown committed a quick foul and had a last-second chance to win the game after the Rebels missed a pair a free throws. Newtown’s Troy Frangione launched an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired, but the shot was off the mark.
“The team showed a lot of character — a lot of heart,” Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch said. “Tough way to open the season but, you know what? There were a lot of good signs tonight.”
Tallcouch liked his team’s energy, defensive effort, and the fact the boys didn’t give up.
The coach said after the game that he was looking for his team to execute better at the free throw line. Newtown also struggled to finish chances on the fast break at times, but this was only game number one.
Dunn had 11 points, and Huegi and Mike Davis both scored 10. Ball and Jeremy Doski had six each, and Frangione added five. Dunn led Newtown with seven rebounds, and Harrison Depuy pulled down six. Doski and Ball had four and three steals, respectively, and Doski registered three blocks.
Newtown fell 37-33 at Pomperaug of Southbury on December 23. Dunn had 14 points, Davis grabbed eight rebounds, and Frangione came away with four steals.