Boys' Cagers Battle Tough Foes As They Seek Chemistry
Newtown High School's boys' basketball team has had some early-season challenges in the form of more than just tough competition, facing a pair of solid nonconference opponents in its first two games.
"We're also at a point we're still learning about each other," said Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch, whose lineup has some new faces as well as familiar ones that missed most of preseason preparation.
The Nighthawks were without football players Jack Mulligan and Riley Ward while their football season spilled over into the basketball campaign during a run to the state championship. Additionally, there are freshmen and sophomores who are new to the team and playing key roles from the get-go.
Newtown passed its first test with a 79-74 win over Crosby of Waterbury in the December 21 opener without Ward there to run the offense at the point guard position, then battled back but came up short in a 70-64 loss to Westhill of Stamford in the opener of the Holiday Tournament, sponsored by the Newtown Youth Basketball Association, on December 27.
Westhill jumped out to a 22-13 lead after one quarter of play. The Nighthawks battled back and seized their first lead when freshman Tyson Mobley drained a left side 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 46-45 edge to end the third quarter.
Mobley hit another 3-pointer to begin the fourth-quarter scoring but Westhill fought back and eventually claimed a 53-52 lead. Ward's finger roll gave the Hawks a one-point lead with 4:40 to go. The Vikings went back in front and led by three when Jack Petersen hit a shot from downtown from the left corner, knotting the score at 57 apiece with 1:45 left. Westhill answered with a 3-pointer of its own. Leading 62-59 in the final minute, the Vikings saw the Hawks again tie things, once more on a Petersen 3-pointer. It was all even with 39 seconds remaining.
Westhill scored five unanswered points, all on one trip down the floor, capitalizing on an offensive rebound off a missed foul shot following a basket and a subsequent 3-point play the old fashioned way.
"I like the way we came back. I like how we took the lead," Tallcouch said.
Ward had 18 points, Mobley had a baker's dozen — highlighted by a trio of 3-pointers — and Max Bloomquist scored 12. Bloomquist and Petersen (six points) both canned a pair of 3-pointers. Mulligan also contributed six points. Mulligan had four rebounds, Isaiah Williams had three rebounds, Jack Kuligowski came away with two steals, and Petersen blocked a shot.
The Newtown coach said his team needs to improve its shooting and clean up some rebounding mistakes, but it is early and these tough games are meant to help prepare the team for later in the season.
"We'll take the learning experience and I think we'll get better," Tallcouch said.
The Nighthawks bounced back with a 62-33 win over Pomperaug of Southbury in the tourney consolation game on December 30. Ward had 16 points and Petersen scored ten to go along with seven rebounds, four steals, and three blocks. Bloomquist had seven points and a trio of steals, and Mobley dropped in six points.