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Boys’ Cagers Bounce Back With Comeback Win Over Green Wave, Lose Close One At Masuk



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Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team overcame a seven-point deficit heading to the fourth quarter and defeated visiting New Milford 52-50 on February 6. The win came two days following a hard-fought 54-53 loss to Immaculate of Danbury.

The Nighthawks trailed for most of the night and were behind 39-32 heading to the fourth quarter. Jack Petersen’s steal and basket cut New Milford’s lead to a point at 45-44 with 2:05 left.

Riley Ward answered a pair of New Milford foul shots with a straightaway 3-pointer to knot the score at 47-47 with 1:39 remaining.

Down two points, the Hawks seized their first lead since 8-7 in the first when Joe McCray drained a 3-pointer with 1:01 left, making it 50-49. Ward added a couple of clutch foul shots, including a front-end one and one with 24 seconds left, and the Hawks held on.

Petersen and McCray both scored 15 and Ward had 13 to lead Newtown. Liam O’Connell added five and Jack Mulligan tacked on four in the victory.

Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch thought his team struggled against New Milford’s 2-3 zone defense and believed his team was a bit sluggish, possibly in part due to having just played a tense, close game against a strong Immaculate team that is unbeaten in conference play.

“These types of games, good teams find ways to win and that’s what we did,” Tallcouch said. “The kids believed in the huddle. They never thought they were going to lose this game.”

On February 11, the Nighthawks had a back-and-forth battle at Masuk of Monroe and came up just short, 51-48. Newtown inbounded from its own baseline with less than four seconds to play and executed a last-second chance to near perfection. Tyson Mobley’s desperation shot from just past half court was on target but swirled around the rim and went out, sparking the Masuk celebration.

Newtown erased most of a nine-point deficit late in the third quarter. Mulligan and McCray hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Mulligan scored down low with two seconds left in the stanza, making it 38-37 Panthers at the end of three.

The Nighthawks trailed 44-41 before going on a 7-0 run highlighted by McCray’s go-ahead baseline 3-pointer from the left and his baseline two-point field goal from the right side, making it 48-44 Nighthawks with 2:25 to play in the game.

Masuk answered and finished with a 7-0 run as Jake Rosati canned a 3-pointer then scored near the hoop after a turnover just seconds later, making it 49-48 Panthers with only 43 seconds remaining. Masuk added to the lead at the foul line.

“I do actually like games like this. I think, number one, you need to learn how to win games like this,” Tallcouch said. “It wasn’t free throws that bit us tonight. It was some costly mistakes.”

Trailing by just a point midway through the fourth, the Nighthawks got steals on consecutive Masuk possessions but subsequently turned the ball back over to the Panthers both times.

Mulligan led Newtown with 20 points and McCray dropped in a dozen.

All in all, Tallcouch was pleased with his team’s efforts.

“I like the way we played tonight,” said the coach, adding that his players overcame early foul troubles and noted that Isaiah Williams and Jack Kuligowski both played well off the bench. Ward and Mulligan had strong chemistry, including on high screens that created good chances to score as well, the coach noted.

Jack Petersen, left, and Riley Ward defend. In the background is teammate Jack Mulligan.
Tyson Mobley (No. 1) moves the ball to Jack Mulligan after going to the floor for possession during Newtown’s 52-50 win over New Milford on February 6. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Joe McCray dribbles toward the basket.
Riley Ward goes after a loose ball.
Jack Mulligan pulls down a rebound.
Jack Petersen drives toward the hoop.
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