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Every win is crucial for Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team, as the Nighthawks vie for a South-West Conference and/or state playoff berth. But the circumstances under which the Hawks picked of consecutive victories February 1 and 3 make those triumphs even more satisfying for Coach Tim Tallcouch and company.
Newtown, on February 1, defeated host New Fairfield 60-47. Against the Rebels, the Hawks led just 6-5 after the first quarter, and scored 23 in the second to build a 29-18 halftime lead. Derek Ivey led Newtown with 12 points. Todd Petersen scored eight; Evan Eggleston, Sam Grossano, and Tom Cotton each had seven; Nick Weiland and Robert DiSibio both had six; and Brian Montoya added five.
Weiland and DiSibio both sank a pair of the team’s seven 3-pointers. Newtown hit five of six foul shots. Ivey led the way with seven of Newtown’s 22 rebounds; Grossano had seven assists and three steals; Weiland had five assists and two steals, and Eggleston had two assists and a trio of steals.
This was Newtown’s first victory away from home this winter, and four of the team’s last six games, beginning with the team’s February 6 visit to New Milford, are away contests.
“We’re going to be spending a lot of time in other people’s gyms so we’ve got to learn to win on the road,” said Tallcouch, adding that he thought his team took a big step in the right direction at New Fairfield, not only coming out on top, but putting together a solid, full 32-minute effort in the process.
Two nights later, the Hawks erased a 27-18 halftime deficit to visiting Masuk of Monroe to defeat the Panthers 52-49 on Senior Night as Cotton, Grossano, and Ivey were honored. Tucker Garrity led the way with 16 points as nine different Hawks registered points. Ivey had six points and ten rebounds, and Garrity had four steals.
“We had not come from behind to win a game this season,” Tallcouch said. “At halftime we responded. The kids took it upon themselves. By coming back and really playing some inspired 16 minutes of basketball in the second half it was nice to see.”
The Hawks carried an overall record of 5-9 and a South-West Conference mark of 5-3 into their final six contests, needing three wins to qualify for the state playoffs and perhaps needing only or win or two to get into the SWC bracket.
Among the remaining contests are games with a Pomperaug of Southbury team that came into this week with a 5-3 SWC mark, and Notre Dame-Fairfield and Bethel squads that had eight and six wins, respectively.
“It’s no picnic, but I like the way we’re playing,” Tallcouch said.
The Nighthawks lost 65-60 at New Milford, but broke even on the night, learning they picked up a win via Kolbe Cathedral’s forfeit of a late-December victory over Newtown due to an ineligible player Koble reported to the state. That was a nonconference matchup, so the win helps Newtown in the state standings only. So the Nighthawks left New Milford’s gym with a loss and a win, and an overall record of 6-9, and 5-4 in SWC play.
Newtown nearly picked up the victory over the Green Wave. Down five points after three quarters, the Hawks put together an 8-0 run for a three-point lead midway into the final stanza. New Milford answered with a 6-0 run and sealed the game at the line after Newtown’s bid to tie on a 3-point try was off the mark. Tallcouch said he was proud of the way his team fought all night.
Ivey had 14 points, Weiland had 12, Cotton scored 11, Grossano dropped in ten, and Eggleston added eight in a balanced scoring attack. Cotton and Weiland each sank a pair of 3-pointers, and Eggleston hit a pair from downtown. Ivey had eight rebounds, Weiland had seven, and Grossano pulled down five to go along with six of Newtown’s 15 steals.
After hosting Torrington in a nonconference clash on February 18, Newtown’s regular season is slated to end with a February 21 visit to Stratford, but Tallcouch is hopeful the schedule will spill over into the postseason.
“We want to be back in the gym. We want to be playing in an SWC game and thinking about a state tournament game,” Tallcouch said.
The Hawks are pleased to be in the playoff picture after a rough beginning to the year, which included five consecutive losses to open the slate until that forfeit made it a 1-4 beginning to the season.
“The way they’ve evolved since early December has been a great thing to not only watch but a great thing for them to experience,” said Tallcouch, adding that the Nighthawks have to be committed to giving a full game effort every time out.