Girls’ Basketball Team Tips Season Off With Victory

Published: December 11, 2018 at 02:16 pm


TRUMBULL — Newtown High School’s girls’ basketball team withstood a Danbury comeback effort, then pulled away to defeat the Hatters 54-41 at neutral site St Joseph in Trumbull in the season-opener on December 10.

The Nighthawks were scheduled to visit St Joe’s on Wednesday, December 12 at 7 pm in the conclusion of the Sandy Hook Tip Off Tourney, which also includes Pomperaug of Southbury.

Newtown led 26-19 at halftime and opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run, capped by Emma Magazu’s three-pointer, for a 36-21 advantage.

It was 36-27 Nighthawks after three quarters, and Danbury continued a 13-0 run to close to within 36-34 early in the fourth.

That was as close as Newtown’s opponent would get.

Just eight seconds after the Hatters got it to a one-possession nail-biter, Newtown’s Nicki DaPra was fouled and sank a pair of free throws to stop Danbury’s surge.

Newtown’s full-court press forced a baseline inbound pass that sailed out along the sideline. Seven seconds later, Cyleigh Wilson capitalized with a three-pointer, and Newtown had a little breathing room again. It was 41-34 with 6:12 left.

“We just needed to keep our composure, have a good offensive possession, and then play defense again,” Newtown Coach Jeremy O’Connell said.

The Hatters drained a three of their own, and the Hawks responded quickly as Jackie Matthews scored on a baseline drive following a bounce-pass assist from Wilton, making it 43-37. After an answer by Danbury made it a four-point game again, Newtown finished the game on an 11-2 run sparked by a DaPra shot from downtown for a 46-39 lead with 5:05 remaining.

A long field goal from DaPra and end-to-end run by Matthews following her defensive rebound sandwiched a Danbury basket and pushed the lead to 50-41 with 2:32 to go.

Carlie Smith rattled home a free throw line-distance jumper and Wilson drained two free throws to help Newtown seal the win.

DaPra finished with 12 points, Matthews had ten, Smith nine, and Wilson eight to lead the Nighthawks as nine players registered points. Cailin Wilson, Amy Sapenter, Shea Murphy, Sarah Nowacki, and Magazu all contributed.

Cyleigh Wilson led Newtown with nine assists, and DaPra, Matthews, and Magazu all handed out seven apiece. Carlie Smith had five deflections. DaPra had five rebounds, all on the defensive end of the floor. Magazu and Sapenter had three and two steals, respectively. The Nighthawks were a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.

All in all, O’Connell is pleased with the win and sees plenty of room for improvement; it is, after all, game one.

“There were spurts where we looked really good, and there were spurts where we looked like we haven’t played basketball in a while,” O’Connell pointed out.

Preseason scrimmages and offseason action aside, the Hawks hadn’t played in a game since March 5, when the Hawks were eliminated from the Class LL state playoffs by Trumbull in the quarterfinals.

Newtown hopes to keep winning and make the necessary adjustments to do so and make a playoff run again this winter.

“Defensively, we didn’t have the intensity we need to be successful throughout the season,” O’Connell said. “But we were able to be successful tonight and get a victory — and we know exactly what we need to work on to get better each day.”

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