Girls’ Basketball Team Defeats Mansfield And Cromwell
Update: This article, originally posted on December 28, has been updated to include highlights from the December 29 game.
Newtown High School’s girls’ basketball team defeated Mansfield, Mass., 43-37 on December 28, then bested Cromwell 44-36 on December 29, both in the Threes For Charity event, at NHS.
The Nighthawks bring a 6-1 overall mark into the New Year, which gets started with a Friday, January 4 clash with visiting Bunnell of Stratford, beginning at 7 pm.
Newtown’s win over the Mansfield Hornets is an example of how effective the Nighthawks can be even when they are not at their best.
“We didn’t play well in a lot of facets, and we found a way to grind it out,” Newtown Coach Jeremy O’Connell said.
O’Connell’s Hawks led 17-15 at the half. The teams doubled their point total in the third quarter alone, as the Hawks carried a 34-30 advantage into the fourth.
The Hawks opened the second half on an 8-2 run, capped by a Nicki DaPra 3-pointer. Leading by just three, Newtown doubled its lead when Amy Sapenter sank a 3-pointer from the left corner, making the score 28-22 with 3:15 to play in the third.
Mansfield battled back to tie the score before a 3-pointer from the left elbow by Sapenter put the Hawks back in the lead for good. Leading 32-30 following a Sapenter free throw with six seconds left in the stanza, a miss on the second foul shot led to two more Nighthawk points. Juliette Cryder deflected the rebound to Sarah Nowacki who scored for a four-point lead.
In the fourth, Cyleigh Wilson opened the scoring, and DaPra spun to put a short-range lefty hook in off the glass for a 38-30 cushion. The Hawks went up by nine before Mansfield closed the gap back to three with just over three minutes to play. Newtown hit enough free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Sapenter led the way with 17 points, DaPra had eight, Wilson seven, and Shea Murphy five. Carlie Smith, Jackie Matthews, and Nowacki all chipped in with two markers.
Sapenter had five rebounds, a steal, two assists, and five deflections; Cyleigh Wilson dished out five assists and had a trio of rebounds; DaPra pulled down ten rebounds, came away with three steals, and added two assists and a pair of deflections; and Nowacki grabbed three rebounds.
O’Connell was particularly pleased with the all-around play of Sapenter against Mansfield and the continued solid contributions from DaPra.
“She’s been doing everything for us all season,” O’Connell said.
The victory over Cromwell, traditionally one of the top teams in the state, was big one for O'Connell and company; this was Newtown's first win over the out-of-conference foes in five tries during the past several seasons. DaPra scored 18 points and was 7-for-7 from the foul line, Matthews grabbed ten rebounds and had four steals, and Murphy went 3-of-4 from the free throw line in the final minute as the Hawks finished 11-for-13 from the charity stripe in the game.
O'Connell said great team defense has allowed the Hawks to hold quality opponents (including Weston in a 62-31 win on December 20) to an average of less than 35 points per game.