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Coming off a 7-13 season in which it missed qualifying for the state playoffs by a mere game, Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team will turn to its teamwork and dedication, among other traits, to try to get into the playoff mix this winter.
“Athleticism, 3-point shooting, guard play, evolving inside game, and unselfishness” are strengths of this lineup, according to Coach Tim Tallcouch, whose goal is for the Nighthawks to compete at a high level. “We’ll surprise people with some post play.”
The coach will look for selfless, focused, and committed play on both sides of the ball this campaign. It will take being healthy and sacrifice from the players if the Hawks are to qualify for the postseason this winter.
Most of all, Tallcouch believes, the Hawks will have to step it up on the defensive end of the court.
“We need to become a lock-down defensive team,” Tallcouch said. “The biggest challenge for us, night in and night out, can we play defense with a purpose and an identity.”
The Nighthawks lost three players to graduation a year ago: Derek Ivey, Sam Grossano, and Tom Cotton. They leave big shoes to fill, but plenty of players with varsity experience are in the fold.
This year’s senior captains are guard/forwards Evan Eggleston and Nick Weiland, and guard Ryan Escoda.
Other key players to help lead the way are guard/forward Robert DiSibio, center/forward Todd Petersen, guard Tucker Garrity, and center/forward Shea Talbot — all juniors — along with sophomore guard Riley Ward.
Newtown stands to have tough competition night in and night out.
“Notre Dame is head and shoulders above the rest. Beyond that, in my opinion, it’s gonna be competitive each and every night,” Tallcouch said.
The Hawks are striving to be among the eight South-West Conference tournament qualifiers. Teams will play critical games throughout the regular slate as they jockey for playoff qualification and positioning.
“I think it’s going to be a battle every night for those two through eight spots,” Tallcouch said.
The Hawks won’t face two-time SWC champion Notre Dame-Fairfield until the third to last game, in mid-February.
Beginning with the Saturday, December 16, home game against Fitch, set to tip off at 3:15 pm, Newtown’s first four matchups are with nonconference foes. The Hawks host Capital Prep on Tuesday, December 19, at 6 pm.
Newtown will visit Tallcouch’s former team, Wilton, in the opener of the Wilton Holiday Tournament on Wednesday, December 27, at 7 pm, and play an opponent to be determined as that tourney continues two days later.
The first clash with an SWC rival is after the calendar turns to 2018, with a Wednesday, January 3, visit to New Milford, followed by a home tilt with Masuk of Monroe two nights later — both at 7 pm.