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Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team locked up a state playoff berth with a 71-34 triumph over host Masuk of Monroe on February 2. Newtown followed that up with its ninth win of the campaign, toppling visiting New Milford 61-48 on February 6.
The Nighthawks carry a 9-7 overall record and 4-5 mark in South-West Conference play into a Friday, February 9, home game against Pomperaug of Southbury, beginning at 7 pm.
With four games remaining, the Hawks are trying to bolster their state playoff ranking and get a spot in the conference playoffs.
“Every game’s important. Every game betters our position in the state,” Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch said.
Getting into the SWC tourney will be challenging, especially considering who the Hawks have on the slate: unbeaten Notre Dame-Fairfield, and two schools with winning overall and conference marks in Pomperaug and Stratford. The other opponent, Bethel, has a losing record.
“It’s not going to be easy. One game at a time,” Tallcouch said.
Against Masuk, the Nighthawks led 17-4 after one quarter of play and 30-20 at halftime before breaking the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Panthers 26-9 in the stanza.
Robert DiSibio led the way with 22 points. Todd Petersen scored 13, Riley Ward had ten, and Ryan Escoda and Evan Eggleston dropped in nine and eight, respectively. DiSibio and Escoda each sank three of Newtown’s nine 3-pointers, Ward drained two from downtown, and Max Bloomquist hit a 3-pointer.
Tallcouch said he was “extremely proud and pleased” with his team winning at Masuk to pick up its eighth victory and secure a berth in the state playoffs.
“The kids deserve it. They’ve played hard all year,” Tallcouch added.
Tallcouch said the Hawks came out with passion and determination right from the get-go, stayed focused, and finished the game by outscoring Masuk 41-14 in the second half. Newtown rarely missed the basket in this game.
“We shot a very impressive 19-for-23 from two-point land, but it was the defense that allowed us to get out in the open floor,” Tallcouch said.
Newtown came away with 19 steals (Petersen had four, Nick Weiland, Ward, and Eggleston all had three), and another stat that stood out for Tallcouch was 17 assists, led by Ward’s seven handouts.
In the win over New Milford, the Hawks took a 29-24 lead into the half.
After a Petersen basket pushed the lead to 25-15, the Green Wave used a 7-0 run to close to within three.
Out of a timeout, Escoda drained one of his five 3-pointers, among nine Nighthawk shots from downtown.
Defense sparked the offense in the third quarter as Newtown opened the second half on an 11-2 run to build a 40-26 advantage.
“It really transcends into us playing some pretty good offense,” Tallcouch said.
Escoda’s left corner 3-pointer and in-close hoops by Eggleston and DiSibio, including some nice work by the forwards along the baseline, helped the Hawks pile onto their lead.
The Wave went without a second-half field goal until 1:18 remained in the stanza. It was 42-30 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was full of fouls and turnovers and the teams combined for 20 free throw attempts in the final stanza.
After a pullup jumper by DiSibio pushed the lead to 55-37 with 2:55 remaining, New Milford went on an 11-3 run to get to within ten at 58-48 with a minute to play. Newtown’s lead was never really in jeopardy.
DiSibio scored 16, all in the second half, and Ward and Escoda both logged 15 points. Petersen added five, Eggleston and Weiland dropped in four apiece, and Shea Talbot tacked on two.
DiSibio pulled down ten rebounds for a double-double. Petersen, Ward, and Weiland all had six rebounds. Ward came away with a trio of steals, and Petersen blocked a pair of New Milford shot attempts.