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Boys’ Cagers Jump Out To Commanding Lead En Route To Triumph Over Trojans



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Coming off a February 11 game at Immaculate of Danbury in which the Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team couldn’t overcome a large first-half deficit, the Nighthawks set out to start faster in a home tilt with Weston two days later.

Mission accomplished, as the Nighthawks built a commanding 43-11 halftime lead en route to a 78-50 triumph over the Trojans on Senior Day — aka Jack Petersen Day, since Petersen is the lone senior on Newtown’s roster.

Petersen, before being honored with his family, had a double-double with 17 points and ten rebounds to go along with five steals.

Liam O’Connell rained 3-pointers, hitting seven of them, all but one of which came in that tone-setting opening half, and accumulated a game-high 24 points.

Joe McCray finished with 11 points, Isaiah Williams had ten along with nine rebounds and four steals. Saahil Ray dropped in 11. Petersen and Cam Ward both had five assists. Charlie Sepp, Connor Dullinger, Connor Hintze, and Kevin Murray all made contributions in the win.

“I felt we harped on it yesterday and the team responded,” Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch said of focusing on a better start following that Immaculate game and jumping all over Weston.

“I thought we had a respectable second half and everybody got to play,” Tallcouch said.

Tallcouch said it was the tale of two halves against Immaculate in a 70-48 setback. The Mustangs hit nine 3-pointers, missing only once from long-range, en route to a 29-point halftime lead.

“Second half, specifically the third quarter, I felt our players took the deficit personally and refocused, which led to a spirited full court press that cut it to 12 points. Overall, we were a plus seven for the second half,” Tallcouch said.

Petersen led Newtown with 24 points, five rebounds, and three steals. McCray chipped in with 11 points and a pair of steals. Williams grabbed six rebounds, and Ray had five points off the bench.

Newtown sank 11 shots from 3-point range, Petersen with six of those, and the Mustangs were held without a 3-pointer in the second half.

“Overall loved the second half, but a lesson to be embraced that the energy, focus, and battle begins earlier,” Tallcouch said.

Newtown certainly seemed to apply that lesson against Weston.

As Tallcouch noted, the first three games, including an opening-night win at Bethel, represent a quarter of the season schedule already, thanks to the coronavirus-shortened slate. The coach is pleased with the overall outcome of the first week’s worth of games.

“I’ll take 2-1 every week,” Tallcouch said.

Newtown fell 75-70 to Brookfield on February 16.

“In a repeat of the Immaculate game, Brookfield, jumped out to a 27-12 after the first quarter. But in similar fashion, we used our shovels and dug out from the double-digit hole at the half and came to within one point with three minutes left in the fourth quarter by once again displaying a defensive commitment,” Tallcouch said. “Learning how to win that game hopefully comes through experience. With one returning starter, senior Jack Petersen, I am pleased with the spirit we have, especially the six contributing underclassmen, who are getting valuable minutes and lessons presented each and every game. Everyone is contributing.”

Petersen had ten points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Williams logged 15 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. O’Connell had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. McCray had 13 points and four rebounds. Ward dropped in eight points, four rebounds, two assists, and four steals. Ray had four points and two rebounds. Sepp scored six points.

Win or lose, Tallcouch enjoys the makeup of this group.

“This team comes to work every day. They’re committed, they’re fun to coach, they like one another. They share the basketball very well with one another,” Tallcouch said.

Joe McCray soars to the rim for two points during Newtown’s win over Weston on February 13.
Jack Petersen comes away with a steal during Newtown’s win.
Liam O’Connell moves the ball up the court. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Saahil Ray makes a move to the basket as teammate Kevin Murray looks on.
Cam Ward dribbles the ball as Weston defends.
Isaiah Williams drives to the hoop.
Charlie Sepp takes the ball up the court for the Hawks.
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