Sharp-Shooting Boys Keep Up Winning Ways, Reach .500

Photo: Andy Hutchison

Brian LeBlanc drains one of his five 3-pointers in Newtown's win over Abbott Tech.

That 0-4 start is in the dust. Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team, having won four straight games, has a clean slate now.

The Nighthawks defeated Abbott Tech of Danbury 74-54 on January 10, then fought back to top Brookfield 57-46 on January 14 — in a pair of home contests to get back to .500.

“We’re getting contributions from everybody. The kids are playing very well,” Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch said.

Newtown trailed Brookfield by three points after three quarters and used a 23-9 fourth quarter to put the game away, dropping the visiting Bobcats to 2-4 overall. Brian LeBlanc had 22 points — all in the second half — to go along with Mike Davis’s 19. The Hawks sank ten 3-pointers. LeBlanc and Mike Davis combined for nine of them. Troy Frangione had nine rebounds and seven assists.

One of Newtown’s bread and butter plays on offense — point guard Frangione driving the ball then dishing off to one of the team’s big men, Julian Dunn or Davis, for an easy hoop — led to basket after basket in the win over Abbott Tech (which fell to 3-4 this winter).

“He is understanding what he is doing better and better each and every day,” Tallcouch said of Frangione, who has emerged into the team’s primary ball handler.

Frangione racked up 15 assists in the win over Abbott Tech, helping Dunn drop in 32 points and Davis add 14.

Another of Newtown’s go-to plays on offense is taking aim from downtown. LeBlanc, who has caught fire as an outside shooter, sank five 3-pointers en route to a 17-point performance against Abbott Tech. Jeremy Doski added seven points, and Frangione and Jacob Burden both scored two in that win.

Newtown overcame nine 3-pointers by Abbott Tech, five of which came in the opening quarter alone, in a fast-paced contest. The Hawks trailed 21-16 after one quarter of play, and overcame an early second-quarter seven-point hole to establish a 41-29 lead heading into halftime.

Tallcouch noted that an early-game adjustment on defense was crucial to his team cooling off Abbott Tech’s offense. His Hawks went to a “triangle and two” defensive scheme — a setup in which three players stayed in the paint and two went up high, tightly guarding outside shooters.

Abbott Tech managed eight points in the second, then picked it up a little bit again in the second half, scoring 15 in the third and ten more in the fourth, but it that was only four more points than the team mustered in just the first stanza, and it was far from enough as the Hawks kept scoring.

LeBlanc ended a 7-0 Abbott Tech run early in the second quarter, pulling Newtown to within 23-19. A Davis feed to Dunn for a basket got Newtown its first lead of the second quarter, with 4:14 to go before the break. It was the last lead change of the game after nine lead changes in the opening eight minutes alone.

An Abbott Tech timeout couldn’t stop the bleeding. LeBlanc drilled a 3-pointer to make it 30-25 and the Hawks were off and rolling. Frangione lost the ball but raced back defensively, stole it right back and fed Dunn for a 3-point play the old-fashioned way as Dunn capped the sequence with a layup and free throw. That made it 37-27 with just over a minute to go before the half. Newtown led 41-29 at the intermission.

Abbott Tech got a 15-point third-quarter deficit down to five but that’s as close as the visitors would get. LeBlanc answered an Abbott Tech 3-pointer with a shot from downtown of his own, making it 52-44 NHS with 1:16 left in the third. A Dunn putback got the lead back to double digits and it was 54-44 heading into the fourth.

Chase Wurtz gave Frangione a breather and picked up where Newtown’s starting point guard left off, spotting Dunn down low for the first of Dunn’s final quarter baskets. LeBlanc’s final 3-pointer of the night came on a fortuitous bounce. Most of his shots were spot on, but the last bounded high off the rim before coming down through the net. LeBlanc put his hands in the air in recognition that he got a little lucky on that one.

Of course, the Nighthawks have been creating their own good bounces overall by playing well of late.

“We’re getting better. As a coach that’s all you can ask for,” Tallcouch said.

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