Log In

Reset Password

Girls’ Cagers Fall At Kolbe, Look To Rebound In State Tournament



Text Size

BRIDGEPORT — As the regular season wound down with tough contests, Newtown High School’s girls’ basketball team was hoping the playoff-like competition would pay off in the South-West Conference Tournament.

Coming off back-to-back years with quarterfinal-round exits, the Nighthawks were looking to change their fortunes this winter, but that did not happen as the No. 5 Nighthawks fell 56-37 to host and No. 4 Kolbe Cathedral, at the Shehan Center, in the SWC quarterfinals on February 16.

Now that the conference title dreams are over, the Nighthawks are hopeful of not changing their postseason fortunes of a year ago. Last winter, the Hawks bounced back from their early conference bracket exit with a run to the State Tournament semifinals.

“We’ll see how they come out in practice this week,” said Coach Jeremy O’Connell, whose Nighthawks went 16-4 in the regular season and are ranked No. 10 in Class LL.

NHS will host No. 23 East Hartford in the state playoff opener Monday, February 26 at 6 pm.

Down the stretch, Newtown beat a Masuk of Monroe squad that ended up being the SWC’s No. 3 seed, as well as a New Fairfield team that went on to be seeded No. 6 and upset Masuk in another quarterfinal matchup.

These games helped get the Hawks set for playoff basketball, but the outcome of the February 12 regular season-finale made things a bit harder.

A 55-54 double-overtime setback at Pomperaug of Southbury on February 12 made things that much harder as the Nighthawks settled for the No. 5 seed and had to go on the road instead of hosting Kolbe.

In their playoff battle, Kolbe led just 12-11 after one quarter of play and saw the Nighthawks hang close, within 18-16 just past the mid-point of the second quarter.

Newtown scored six of its eight points in the second quarter from the foul line as Kolbe initiated contact even away from the basket.

Free throws kept things close for Newtown but the Cougars used a combination of fastbreak scoring and dominance on the boards to pull ahead 26-19 at the half, then took control in the third quarter.

They outscored the Hawks 17-5 to build a commanding 43-24 advantage going to the fourth.

Newtown actually got off to a decent start in the second half with Ava Rochester opening the scoring. But then the Cougars went on an 11-0 run over the next 4:18 of game action. Bridget McCleary hit a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding but Kolbe was in command with time running out.

Kolbe’s physicality and ability to get to rebounds, and make more shots added up to the team’s second win over NHS this season. The Cougars had beaten Newtown 54-32 back on February 1, but O’Connell thought his team beat itself by not doing enough of the little things — the fundamentals.

“We had opportunities. We didn’t box out, we didn’t move quickly on offense, we didn’t rebound, we didn’t stop the ball, we didn’t ball fake,” O’Connell said.

Sam Diaspro scored ten points, Izzy Caron nine, and Jenna Lagan six.

In the Pomperaug game a few days earlier, Caron poured it on with 26 points, which included a school record-tying six 3-pointers (Caron tied a mark she had tied a couple of times last winter). Rochester scored 11 points and Diaspro had ten.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Newtown High players defend during a conference tourney setback at Kolbe Cathedral in Bridgeport on February 16. Pictured are, from left: Addy Cordova, Sam Diaspro, Jenna Lagan, Izzy Caron, and Sofia Verdi. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Bridget McCleary lines up a 3-point attempt.
Mo Murphy dribbles the ball as Kolbe defends.
Comments are open. Be civil.

Leave a Reply