WATERBURY – Last year, it went to Waterbury and upset one of the city’s Naugatuck Valley League representatives, Crosby High School, in the first round of the Class LL state tournament. This year, Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team couldn’t duplicate the David defeats Goliath performance.
The Nighthawks, seeded 22nd in the LL bracket, fell 65-40 to No. 11 Kennedy in the March 11 tourney opener.
Kennedy, which went 16-4 in the regular season, moved on to play No. 6 Ledyard in the second round. Newtown, coming off a 12-8 regular slate, is done for the season – one that was highlighted by a strong stretch to pull the team out of an 0-4 start and into the ranks to the teams with winning marks.
Kennedy used pin-point passing and off-ball movement to cut through the defense and score easy hoops to establish an early commanding lead. As sharp as the home team’s offense was, it was the lack of offensive execution on the part of his Nighthawks that was a large difference-maker in this one, Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch said.
“I thought defense was a big difference in this game. We struggled to score,” said Tallcouch, whose team was held to just 14 first-half points.
Newtown’s Julian Dunn beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter, on a putback, to bring the Hawks within five, at 13-8. Kennedy went on to score 19 points in the second quarter and there was no looking back.
Tallcouch noted that his team made eight first-half turnovers, most of which were unforced, and that is something that was uncharacteristic of his squad throughout the campaign.
Dunn scored ten points to pace the Hawks, and Brian LeBlanc, Harrison Depuy, and Chase Wurtz all scored six. Joe Duero came off the bench late to rim home a 3-pointer and added a pair of free throws for five points. Jeremy Doski had three points, and Dylan Palumbo and Troy Frangione each added two. Kennedy’s Don Jarrett scored 18 and Darryl Flowers added 12 in the win.
This game marks the end of high school careers of LeBlanc, Wurtz, Jake Ball, and Mike Davis, the latter of whom sat out the tail end of the season – but supported his teammates from the bench – because of an injury.
Their tenure included a surprising win over a fourth-seeded, 19-1 Crosby team when the Hawks were the No. 29 team in the bracket a year ago. It included bouncing back from that rough 0-4 start and overcoming injury this campaign.
“This group here has done a lot not only for themselves, but the school. It was a pleasure coaching them,” Tallcouch said.