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Heartbreaking Loss On Emotional Night For Hawks



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Heartbreaking Loss On Emotional Night For Hawks

By Andy Hutchison

In the eyes of Coach John Quinn, everything seemed to be in place for a win: The Newtown High School boys’ basketball team had a big home crowd on hand, his players were focused and ready, and it was all about Newtown basketball on Tuesday night as longtime Newtown Youth Basketball Coach Jack Shpunt was honored in a pregame ceremony (see related story).

Unfortunately for the young Nighthawks, it turned out to be a heartbreaker of a learning experience in a 56-53 setback to town-next-door rival Masuk of Monroe. The Panthers got 27 points from Matthew Gerak and overcame an early NHS lead en route to getting to .500 at 3-3, while the Nighthawks dropped their third straight game and slipped to 2-4 overall.

The Nighthawks, with mostly inexperienced-at-the-varsity-level players in the lineup, got their first taste of a down-to-the-wire contest this season, and Quinn believes that lack of exposure to tight games proved costly.

“We’re not used to that situation. I think it bit us a little bit,” said Quinn, whose team took a lead after the first quarter and went back and forth with Masuk in a tight contest from start to finish.

“The kids were — needless to say — very, very disappointed,” he added. “This was a heartbreaker.”

Newtown was led by Kyle Wilcox with 15 points, and got 11 from Mike Daubert, eight apiece from Connor Quinn and Mike Davis, and seven from Taylor Steimle. The offense continues to play well with ball-handlers Quinn, Daubert, and Jake Ball all attacking the basket and either scoring or kicking the ball out to teammates, Quinn notes. The coach just wants to see a little something more, which he believes will come with more games under their belts.

“I think we need to play with a little more emotion in critical parts of the game,” said Quinn, explaining that free throw shooting troubles and lack of defensive stops in the fourth quarter were significant difference-makers. “We didn’t play as aggressively as we should have on defense in the fourth quarter.”

Newtown, which defeated Pomperaug of Southbury on December 22, then lost to nonconference foes Ridgefield and Staples of Westport during the holiday week, will try to get back on the winning track on Friday, January 6, when the Hawks will visit Bunnell of Stratford at 7 pm. Bunnell, like Newtown, is a young team, and Quinn is confident his squad will pull through with a win. After the Bunnell game comes a tough test at unbeaten Immaculate of Danbury (which knocked off defending South-West Conference champion Notre Dame-Fairfield). Newtown comes back home to face Bethel on January 13.

“We’ve got a tough three games coming up,” Quinn said.

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