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Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team went into January 10 action winless in five games, and came out of it unbeaten in South-West Conference play to begin the season.
The Nighthawks, in their first matchup that counts in the SWC standings, defeated visiting Brookfield, 57-51, for their first victory following five mostly hard-fought losses.
“Just to get a win really, really feels good and this group of kids deserves it because they don’t give up,” Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch said. “For me it’s a sense of being proud that they finally felt a winning feeling tonight. It wasn’t easy but we persevered and we made plays when we needed to.”
The game featured only three lead changes, the last of which was Newtown’s 6-4 advantage in the first quarter. The Hawks led pretty much the rest of the way, building a seemingly commanding 33-16 advantage in the process, and never fell behind. The Bobcats did claw all the way back to even the score at 39-39 with 4:07 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Nighthawks proceeded to go on a 10-1 run to reclaim control until another Bobcat comeback effort pulled the visitors to within 53-51 with 28 seconds left.
Newtown went 20 of 38 from the free throw line in this foul-filled contest, but hit enough of its shots in the waning seconds to help put the game away.
Tom Cotton rattled home a pair of clutch freebees with 20 seconds left for a 55-51 lead, and Todd Petersen hit a pair of shots in two successive trips to the line in the final moments. Petersen hustled to the rebound off his miss and dove to save the ball, knocking it off a Brookfield player and out of bounds; he then took an inbound pass and hit another foul shot to finish off the scoring.
The Hawks got 13 points apiece from Petersen and Tucker Garrity, nine points from Cotton, and eight from Evan Eggleston. Nick Weiland and Derek Ivey scored four points each, Sam Grossano added three, and Brian Montoya and Ryan Escoda tacked on two and one, respectively.
After Brookfield tied the score in the fourth, Grossano hit a pair of free throws with 3:54 to play. Garrity’s impressive baseline move and left-handed layup answered a Bobcat foul shot for a 43-40 lead with 2:50 remaining.
Petersen knocked down a 3-pointer to double the lead. Garrity’s shot block led to a turnover and the Hawks added to their advantage as Peterson finished off a fast break for a 48-40 lead with 2:15 left. The Bobcats chipped away before Newtown finally sealed it.
Ivey, Eggleston, and Petersen all had six rebounds, and Cotton had five rebounds and two blocks; Weiland logged four assists and four rebounds; Grossano had five assists. The Nighthawks forced numerous turnovers, compiling 20 steals, led by Grossano’s eight, and three apiece from Garrity and Petersen, who also added a blocked shot.