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Newtown High School’s boys’ basketball team came from behind for a nail-biting 50-48 win at New Milford on January 3, then toppled visiting Masuk of Monroe 76-48 on January 6, in a game rescheduled from the night before after snow canceled school.
The Nighthawks carried a 5-1 record into the start of South-West Conference play, beginning with a January 8 visit to Brookfield. The Nighthawks lost 51-43 to Brookfield.
Robert DiSibio had 18 points and Evan Eggleston scored 15 in the loss. Newtown Coach Tim Tallcouch said his team struggled on the offensive glass, pulling down only a handful of offensive rebounds among 25 total pull-downs in the game. “We have a saying, 30 plus rebounds in order to win,” said Tallcouch, adding that those extra possessions Brookfield got came back to haunt the Hawks in contest that was close throughout.
In the triumph over Masuk, Newtown took a 38-25 halftime lead and pulled away, going ahead 60-36 after three quarters.
DiSibio led the way with 19 points, Todd Petersen dropped in 15, and Riley Ward had 13. Eggleston scored eight, Ryan Escoda six, Shea Talbot five, and Nick Weiland four.
Ward had seven assists. DiSibio had nine rebounds, and Petersen pulled down six.
Pressuring defense, whether it was 1-3-1 or man-to-man, was key to Newtown’s success against Masuk. The Nighthawks created numerous turnovers, including 19 steals. Eggleston and Escoda both had five steals, and Ward had three.
“When I scouted Masuk, they want to play a half-court game and for us, we don’t want to play a half-court game. The more chaos there is the more up and down it is, and that’s how we want to play,” Tallcouch said. “We knew we had to come in and create chaos and the kids played it well.”
Tallcouch was proud of the overall team effort against Masuk.
“We’re more athletic than we usually are and we have more chemistry. We like each other; we’re all friends. We all hang out together. I think that’s part of it,” Escoda said of the early-season success.
In a display of pure selflessness, Escoda and Eggleston worked a two-on-one fast break to perfection with a series of quick, one-touch passes culminating in an Eggleston layup as part of Newtown’s third-quarter pullaway.
Escoda celebrated his birthday with a pair of 3-pointers and a timely foul per the request of his coach. In the final few minutes, Tallcouch called for his team to foul in order to stop the clock and get his regulars off the court for a hand from the crowd, as well as to give the substitutes some court time. Escoda committed the foul and NHS Public Address Announcer Jason “J” Edwards lightheartedly commented that Escoda got a foul for his birthday.
Morten Sande, Preston Bliss-Martinez, and Max Bloomquist all added two points, and Jack Kuligowski and Jack Petersen logged minutes, in the win over Masuk.
The win over New Milford was especially encouraging for the Nighthawks given how much they were tested.
“Great character win tonight. We were down primarily the whole game but no more than five points,” Tallcouch said following the win over New Milford.
Trailing by three points with four minutes left in the contest, the Nighthawks outscored the Green Wave 10-5 to come out on top in a thriller.
DiSibio led Newtown with 13 points, Eggleston and Escoda both scored nine, Petersen dropped in eight, and Ward added six. Talbot and Weiland added three and two, respectively.
Escoda and Ward combined for five of Newtown’s seven shots from behind the 3-point arc.
The Hawks were 5-for-6 from the foul line, making most of their free throws down the stretch.
Weiland pulled down eight rebounds, Petersen had seven, DiSibio six, Talbot five, and Eggleston four. Weiland tacked on four assists and two shot blocks.
Newtown trailed 8-7 after one quarter, 21-17 at the half, and 34-32 heading to the fourth before outscoring the Wave 18-14 in the final stanza.
“Character-building win on the road in front of a packed and loud student section. Defensively, Eggleston and Ward shut down their two top scorers. Clutch Baskets by DiSibio, Weiland, Petersen down the stretch along with a huge 4-for-4 from the line in crunch time by Petersen and Eggleston. Ryan Escoda’s three 3-pointers were needed to loosen up the New Milford Defense and Shea Talbot gave us critical minutes when Petersen and Disibio were taking a break,” Tallcouch said.
Newtown will have rematches with New Milford and Masuk in games that count in the SWC standings. The schedule stands to toughen with games against strong SWC foes.
“If we can continue to play with this type of energy, commitment, and focus I think we’re going to be okay,” Tallcouch said after the win over Masuk.
“We’ve had an awesome start. Hopefully we can keep it going,” Petersen added.
Newtown will look to bounce back from the setback to Brookfield in a Friday, January 12 visit to Kolbe Cathedral of Bridgeport, beginning at 7 pm. The Hawks will visit Joel Barlow of Redding on Tuesday, January 16, also at 7 pm.
“Back to work, at Kolbe on Friday — poses a different challenge with their pressure defense. Next two games again on the road, we’ll need to bring a lot of energy and ball security versus Kolbe’s 32 minutes of pressure. Barlow is always tough at their place and do a very good job defensively. Also, we are looking forward to some consistency of practice time, moving forward, and not have to be canceled due to weather,” Tallcouch said.