Boys’ Cagers Bounce Back Behind 3-Point Barrage
The only thing that stopped Riley Ward from sinking 3-point shots was a late-game substitution out of the game. Ward canned five shots from downtown, all in the fourth quarter, as Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team pulled away for a 68-46 triumph over visiting Pomperaug of Southbury on January 13.
Tyson Mobley hit four 3-pointers and Jack Kuligowski sank a pair from behind the arc as Newtown nailed 11 from long range in the game.
Ward finished with 23 points, Kuligowski scored 14, Mobley 13, and Joe McCray added nine off the bench.
The Nighthawks fell behind early and were down 17-12 after one quarter of play. Mobley made a long-distance 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the quarter and took a lead late in the second. Kuligowski hit a 3-pointer to knot the score at 25 apiece. Ward’s pull-up jumper gave Newtown a 27-25 edge late in the half. It was all even at 27-27 heading into the break.
Although the 3-point shot was a large factor in the outcome, defense keyed Newtown’s second-half dominance.
“They had to pick up the defensive intensity,” said Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch, adding that the halftime talk was about tightening up on defense. “Eventually our shots are going to fall.”
After the Panthers took a one-point lead early in the third, Mulligan scored off a setup from Kuligowski down low for a 29-28 advantage and Newtown didn’t look back. Petersen scored on a put-back after a Kuligowski steal, Mobley had a steal and bucket, and Ward went coast-to-coast for a hoop as part of a 10-0 run. Those shots were starting to fall, the Nighthawks limited the Panthers to six points in the quarter, and led 43-33 going to the fourth.
The lead ballooned quickly as Mobley contributed a 3-pointer in transition during Newtown’s 25-point outburst to close out the game.
Led by two steals apiece from Petersen and Jack Mulligan, the Hawks compiled 11 steals in the win.
Newtown had beaten Pomperaug by 29 points in late December but was very competitive for a half in the rematch.
“On any given night in the SWC anybody can beat anybody,” Tallcouch said.
Newtown’s coach was pleased with his team’s second-half turnaround and added that McCray and Isaiah Williams, who chipped in with two points, gave the team some needed energy off the bench.
The Nighthawks were coming off a hard-fought 64-59 loss to Bassick of Bridgeport on January 9. Ward had 23 points and Petersen dropped in 16. NHS is a Division II team and Bassick a D-I program. Tallcouch is hopeful tough early-seasons tests against nonconference teams pays off later in the year. Newtown fell to D-II team Tolland by two points and lost to a tough D-III Westhill of Stamford team by six. NHS has out-of-conference wins over Crosby of Waterbury and Ledyard.