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NHS Girls' Basketball-Nighthawks Aim For Fast Starts Against Tough Teams



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NHS Girls’ Basketball—

Nighthawks Aim For Fast Starts Against Tough Teams

By Andy Hutchison

Finishing games strongly has been a regular occurrence for the Newtown High School girls’ basketball team. You can’t count the Nighthawks out of any contest. But the girls are striving to also jump out to fast starts in their remaining games in an effort to turn their comebacks-fall-short scenarios/losses into wins.

Newtown fell behind by 17 points in the second half of the January 29 home game with Immaculate of Danbury before trimming the deficit to eight on a Sara Kelley four-point play early in the fourth quarter … only to lose 56-49 and fall to 8-6 overall (4-5 in the South-West Conference).

Granted, Immaculate (which improved to 10-4 and 6-3) is one of the top teams in the SWC, and Coach Shawn O’Brien was proud of his team’s effort against the Mustangs, but the Nighthawks have fallen behind and clawed back in losses to other teams, including Weston and Masuk in recent games.

“That’s been happening of late,” O’Brien said of his team’s propensity to come to life in the second half.

“We make such good comebacks but we’re behind by so much that our efforts are going to waste,” junior Taylor Benson said. “We need to have that feeling before the game — and have that amount of energy from the start.”

Against Immaculate, Kelley was fouled in the process of nailing a three-pointer and hit the free throw to get Newtown to within 48-40 with 7:41 to play. The Nighthawks had two possessions in which to cut deeper into the deficit, but couldn’t cash in and the Mustangs kept some breathing room between themselves and the Hawks. Down 12, Newtown got back to within nine as Abbey Doski sank a three-pointer with 2:08 to play, but it was too little too late. Immaculate’s Jen Daily, a Newtown resident, dominated the first half of this game — during which she scored 19 of her 21 points. O’Brien credited the strong second-half defensive play of Doski and Jess Lynch for limiting Daily’s chances late in the game.

“We put a lot of effort into the second half, but we’re so far behind already that it’s hard to actually get there,” freshman Bridget Power said of the team’s efforts to complete comebacks.

As frustrating as these hard-fought losses have been, the fact remains that the team is chock full of freshmen and sophomores who are getting battle-tested.

“I think it’s good for the younger girls to get the experience,” Benson said.

Kelley had 12 points, Riley Wurtz scored 11, Doski had 10 and Lynch and Carly Iwanicki each had 6 against Immaculate. Iwanicki pulled down 10 rebounds in a strong all-around effort. Aside from Kelley, the lone senior, all of these scorers are sophomores.

“It bodes well for us in the future,” O’Brien said.

In the meantime, Newtown remains focused on having some success this campaign and will have a chance to compete in the state playoffs. The Nighthawks handed struggling Bethel (2-12) another loss with a 61-50 win on Tuesday night. NHS didn’t get out to such a fast start in this contest and fell behind after one quarter of play — but the Hawks had no problems seizing control behind Kelley’s 34-point performance (including five three-pointers).

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