Basketball is an intense game with quick ball movement, lots of scoring, moving screens, plenty of contact, and fouls. Add wheelchairs to the mix and you’ve got a similarly fast-paced game with a twist. On October 25 and 26, athletes from six basketball teams competed in the McKane & Kennedy Memorial Tournament hosted by NYA Sports & Fitness Center. The Connecticut Spokebenders took on other National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) teams from New York and Massachusetts in a fun-filled yet competitive tourney. These athletes not only passed, dribbled, shot, and scored, but also followed wheelchair game-specific rules to avoid traveling violations — showing off their coordination and strength as they moved feverishly up and down the court.
Sparked by a record-setting performance by its 200 yard freestyle relay team, Newtown High School’s girls’ swimming and diving team placed second in the South-West Conference championships, which wrapped up with swimming events at Masuk High in Monroe on November 1. Perennial powerhouse Pomperaug of Southbury won the competition with 581 points. Newtown scored 415 to beat out Weston (third place with 391 points) for the runner-up team finish. Brookfield was fourth and host Masuk was fifth in the 11-team championship. Newtown’s 200 relay team of Mary Hufziger, Eliza Eggleston, Amanda Mele, and Amy Martinelli combined for a time of 1:40.30, which set not only a team record, but also a conference championship meet mark.
Newtown High School’s girls’ volleyball, field hockey, and girls’ and boys’ soccer teams all qualified for state tournament action, which gets going on Monday, November 3, and Tuesday, November 4. Only the volleyball squad earned a first-round home match; the others will have to prove their mettle on the road to advance into second-round play. The volleyball team (14-4 during the regular season) earned the Class LL bracket’s ninth seed and will host No. 24 Hamden at 6 pm on November 3. Newtown’s field hockey team (7-9) earned the Class L’s 19th seed and will have a qualifying-round clash with No. 14 Southington (10-6) at 2 pm on November 3. Both soccer teams had winning records but will have to win away from their familiar home digs.
The Newtown High School football team didn’t need to do anything tricky to treat themselves to an easy 54-13 win under the lights at Weston High on Halloween. Newtown was scary-good from the start, piling up 34 first-quarter points en route to a 48-0 halftime lead. The Nighthawks improved to 8-0 and Weston fell to 3-5. Newtown’s first touchdown came on defense when Ben Mason recovered a fumble and ran the ball back 11 yards for a score. Jaret DeVellis found the end zone on a 38-yard run and Newtown had a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Newtown High School’s Kari Djonne won the South-West Conference diving championship at Pomperaug High School in Southbury on October 29. Djonne had a score of 489.15 which broke the SWC record of 398.50, set in 2009. Djonne also set Newtown High School team and pool records in her performances this season. Newtown's diving team, including Gillian Eckwall, Sarah MacMullen, and Emma Wolfman, has routinely helped led the Nighthawks to one-two-three finishes in meets this season. The swimming portion of the SWC championships will take place on Saturday, November 1 at Masuk High School in Monroe. Top swimmers in the conference will compete beginning at 1 pm. Newtown boasts a strong lineup that had some school record-setting performances during meets this fall. Newtown went 9-1 this season, and finished second in the 11-team conference. Pomperaug of Southbury, which went undefeated, claimed first place in the regular campaign.
The Newtown High School field hockey team finished the regular season with a bang, winning its last two games to qualify for the Class L state playoffs. The team finished with a record of 7-9. The last two games were both hard fought wins against Brien McMahon of Norwalk and Bethel. Newtown beat McMahon 3-2 on October 20 then beat Bethel 2-1 on October 22 — both at Blue & Gold Stadium. Newtown’s win over Bethel, which came on Senior Night, pushed the girls into the postseason and the Nighthawks hope it sparks a long postseason run.
The Newtown High School girls’ soccer team finished out the regular season strong, winning three out of its last four games. Newtown put in a good stretch run fighting it out for a spot in the South-West Conference playoffs, narrowly missing the eighth and final spot. Despite the disappointment of missing the opportunity to play in the SWC tournament, Coach Marc Kenney was very pleased with the team’s effort and overall improvement especially toward the end of the season.
The New York Jets announced that Steve George, coach of the Newtown High School football team, has been named last week’s recipient of the New York Jets High School Coach of the Week Award presented by Chase.
Back on October 6, Newtown High School’s girls’ volleyball team upset Weston in four games, sparking the team’s ten-match winning streak which led the Nighthawks into a conference tournament rematch with the Trojans with a spot in the championship on the line. On October 29, Weston turned the tables on the Nighthawks, as the South-West Conference’s third seed executed a mild upset of the No. 2 Hawks, earning a 3-1 (25-18, 15-25, 25-18, 25-18) victory in the tournament semifinals at Monroe’s Masuk High School.
Newtown High School’s girls’ volleyball team won its South-West Conference playoff opener, toppling visiting New Milford 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-14) on October 27. The Nighthawks, the tourney’s No. 2 seed, survived scares in each of the first two games, then pulled away in the clincher to overcome the No. 7 Green Wave in this quarterfinal-round match. Newtown advances to take on No. 3 Weston in the tourney’s semifinals (scheduled to take place at neutral site Masuk of Monroe on Wednesday, October 29 at 5 pm). Kyle Dandrea had 14 kills, seven digs, and three service aces; Jamie Calandro had 11 digs and ten kills; Tessa Leon-Gambetta had eight digs; Clara Whaley had seven kills and four aces; Molly McCoy had 36 assists to go along with two aces; Julia Wiberg added four kills; and Tonya Tucker contributed three aces.