Chemistry From The Classroom To The Court For Nighthawk Boys
In sports, chemistry is key for success and Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team is no exception. This squad happens to be led by a chemistry teacher who sought to mix and match to create winning ways on the hardwood.
“I had to balance the veteran reactants with the youth reactants to have a very solid product on the court each and every night,” said Coach Tim Tallcouch, whose team went 13-7 during the regular season, reached the South-West Conference tournament semifinals, and was the No. 14 seed in the Division II State Tournament that got canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I think this group really, really had great chemistry. They like each other, they really play for each other. I just wish it could have continued in the state tournament,” Tallcouch said.
One of the chemistry teacher’s (coach’s) moves in looking for the right pieces to go together was to start a freshman right from the get-go. Tyson Mobley was given the responsibility of handling the ball a lot for a first-year high school player, and succeeded in his role.
“That’s saying something,” said Tallcouch, who last started a ninth-grader when he was coaching at Westhill High of Stamford back in 2000.
The reason for Mobley’s significant involvement was that he is a strong ball handler and his involvement prevented teams from solely focusing on primary ball handler, senior captain Riley Ward.
Finding the right chemistry sometimes requires adjustments and players suggested to their coach partway through the season that they push the ball more. “I was all for it. I think that really helped us,” Tallcouch said. “We did get easier looks.”
In the half-court game, Newtown used a lot of screens — high and low — to take advantage of its personnel. Senior captain Jack Mulligan screened for junior captain Jack Petersen whose versatility allowed him to take the open shot, attack the basket, or stop to pull up for a shot...or dump the ball off to Mulligan if he had a better look. Plenty of options there. There were also high screens for Ward to drive to the basket or shoot from long range.
“There’s this really good chemistry between Riley Ward and Jack Mulligan that I feel goes back to their days of playing travel together,” Tallcouch said.
Some of Newtown’s game plan was to kick the ball out to senior captain Jack Kuligowski who frequently spotted up for open 3-point looks in the corner.
“There were a lot more screens incorporated in our offensive schemes this year,” said Tallcouch, who draws up different styles of play to best fit the skill set of a team in a given season.
Chemistry can only carry a team to so many wins. And Newtown exhibited a solid work ethic to accompany their bond on the court. Tallcouch said the hard work and leadership provided by the captains helped set the tone for a winning campaign.
“I thought the chemistry between the team this year was great, especially between us three seniors. We’ve been playing together since fourth or fifth grade. I feel like those experiences together really helped us succeed this year as a team,” Mulligan said. “And the underclassmen did a great job of learning the ways of the program and building off of everything we do. We had a lot of younger kids contribute to our team this year, and these experiences will hopefully help them and the program in the future.”