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Outcomes Not Exactly As They Seem For Girls' Cagers



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The old saying “never judge a book by its cover” certainly applied for the Newtown High School girls’ basketball team in each of its last two games — a 58-44 loss to Saddle River Day School in New Jersey on January 3 and a 54-40 win over visiting Stratford on January 6. A 14-point loss is a 14-point loss? And a 14-point win is a 14-point win?

Not exactly.

For starters, Newtown Coach Jeremy O’Connell’s team benefited from its setback to Saddle River in that the team was challenged. O’Connell schedules nonconference games against tough teams in hopes of preparing his group for the postseason. Additionally, the Newtown community stands to benefit from his squad’s visit to Saddle River, O’Connell says. The Nighthawks, along with four youth teams from town, played against Saddle River squads as part of fundraising efforts for an outdoor basketball court the Nighthawks are hoping to establish in Sandy Hook down the road. The Newtown teams hold raffles and some of the proceeds from ticket sales go toward the effort.

“Building a court can bring a lot of joy and fun to a lot of people,” O’Connell notes.

O’Connell’s team was initially invited to Saddle River for a Threes For Sandy Hook Tournament in the aftermath of 12/14. Since then, Saddle River has visited NHS to participate in Newtown’s Threes For Charity Tournament, from which proceeds will go toward the establishment of that court, and the teams continue to take turns hosting the other.

“We’re there because of basketball but that’s not the reason we’re there,” O’Connell said of visiting Saddle River. “It’s more than basketball. It’s all about special relationships you forge with people of Saddle River and surrounding communities.”

So the visit to New Jersey proved to be a win-win-loss scenario, with the win-win superseding the team’s loss.

Newtown returned home and, three days later, improved to 5-2 overall with that win over Stratford against a Red Devils team that has begun the season alternating wins and losses to the tune of a 3-3 mark.

The Nighthawks got 18 points from Haley Ryan, who sank a trio of 3-pointers and had another trifecta via a 3-point play the old-fashioned way when she scored while being fouled and made her subsequent free throw. Mali Klorczyk had 13 points, Sarah Lynch scored 11, Olyvia Shaw had five, and Lauren Wilcox added three.

After the game, the only bright spot in the eyes of O’Connell, was that his team won. The coach was not thrilled with his team’s play. Newtown did miss some layups, and O’Connell wants to see the players hustle more.

“If we want to be a good team we have to bring intensity every game,” he said.

Newtown’s next two games are on the road: Friday, January 9, at Weston and Tuesday, January 13, at Brookfield. The Hawks return home to face Bethel on January 16. All of the games begin at 7 pm. Then comes one of the team’s challenging nonconference tests, a January 17 visit to Farmington with a start time of 5 pm.

Read more about the Saddle River and Startford games in the January 9 print edition of The Bee.

Haley Ryan drives to the basket despite heavy defensive pressure from Startford during Newtown's 54-40 win on January 6. Ryan had 18 points in the victory.
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