Conference Champs! Girls’ Basketball Team Captures Title
They say defense wins championships and — and that good things come to those who wait — and you won’t get an argument from members of the Newtown High School girls’ basketball team.
The second-seeded Nighthawks put forth a typical turnover-causing effort on the way to a 52-32 triumph over No. 4 Bethel in the South-West Conference tournament championship game, at neutral site Pomperaug High in Southbury, on February 21. Snow postponed the tipoff by a day.
Amy Sapenter and Cyleigh Wilson both scored 13 points, and MVP Nicki DaPra dropped in 11 to lead the offense. Carlie Smith scored six, Jackie Matthews four, Cailin Wilson, Emma Magazu had two apiece, and Sarah Nowacki added a point.
Matthews and Nowacki had five and four rebounds, respectively, and Matthews handed out six assists. Cyleigh Wilson had three assists for Coach Jeremey O’Connell’s Nighthawks.
Cyleigh Wilson, Sapenter, and DaPra each had two steals, and Emma Magazu and Smith both had a steal. Smith and Nowacki each blocked one shot.
After a Bethel 3-pointer got the Wildcats to within 18-13, the Hawks answered with a shot from downtown of their own when Sapenter connected from the left corner.
After a pair of Wildcat free throws, Wilson made a shot from long range from beyond the left elbow part of the arc. That pushed the lead to 24-15. DaPra’s 3-pointer capped the third-quarter scoring, making it 31-18.
In the fourth, the Hawks broke Bethel’s full-court press and Sapenter capitalized with a pair of uncontested finishes to help seal the win.
Newtown pretty much mirrored its regular season 49-30 win over the Wildcats, a game the Hawks led by seven points at the half before pulling away. The Hawks made eight 3-pointers in the first tilt and drained seven from downtown in the title game.
Cyleigh Wilson hit all three of her 3-pointers in the first half, Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers, and DaPra and Sapenter each made shots from beyond the arc.
Bethel led 9-5 after one quarter of play but was held to single free throw in the second stanza, one in which Newtown made a trio of 3-pointers to seize the lead for good.
The Wildcats accumulated half of their points from the free throw line. Despite committing 16 fouls, none of the Nighthawks fouled out — a testament to the team’s depth as O’Connell rotated players in and out of the lineup throughout the contest.
Newtown’s tough defense led to numerous Bethel turnovers. The Nighthawk offense moved the ball well to create good looks at the hoop, giving the Wildcats limited chances to counter.
Sapenter and Matthews were named to the All SWC Team.
High five! This was the third NHS team conference championship of the winter as the girls' cagers join the dance, gymnastics, cheer, and wrestling squads at the top.
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