Foul trouble plague Trojans in 63-56 overtime loss to Nighthawks
Published 1:05 am, Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In a game full of suspense, the Weston boys basketball team lost 63-56 at home in overtime to the Newtown Nighthawks on Friday. In a rematch of the Staples Holiday Tournament, Class LL Newtown had its hands full against a determined and well-disciplined Class M Weston squad.
Newtown (8-1) won by seven points Dec. 30 and the Trojans were looking for revenge. Coach Ryan Errico's team had prepared hard for this game all week and was coming off a convincing victory over Joel Barlow.
Weston started strong with senior captain Dennis Levene winning the tip-off and following right to the basket for two. Less than five seconds later, Levene did it again for two more followed by a blocked shot by senior captain Andrew Baron. With junior Cole Rossman dropping in a 3-pointer, the Trojans jumped out to a 7-2 early lead.
Newtown fought back and tied the game at 11 with just over two minutes left in the quarter. With Levene scoring two more and Rossman hitting two free throws, the Trojans had a 15-11 lead after one quarter. Levene had eight points and Rossman had five in the first quarter.
The Trojans switched to a man-to-man zone to open up the second quarter. In fact, all game long the Weston boys moved back and forth from their traditional 2-3 zone to the man-to-man to keep the visiting Nighthawks off balance and that strategy seemed to work.
"We've worked hard on switching up our defense to keep the other team off balance," Errico said. "This team communicates so well on the court and makes these transitions so smoothly."
Offensively, it was all Levene in the second quarter as the 6-6 senior accounted for all of Weston's six points. Newtown however, did not give up and tied the game at 17 with 3:00 minutes to go in the first half. Levene had another put back to tie the game at 19 and then tied it again at 21 on a nice short jumper with just one second left.
Newtown opened the second half with a full court press but the Trojans handled it well. Sophomore Max Molinsky started off with a trey, Levene hit for two more and then Rossman hit one of two foul shots to give Weston a 26-21 lead. Midway into the third period, Levene and Baron each picked up their third fouls but Rossman kept the Trojans offense going with seven points in the quarter.
A deuce by Levene followed by two free throws by senior Jeff Evanier had the Trojans up 35-30 with just over two minutes to go in the quarter.
Not more than 60 seconds later, Dennis Levene picked up his fourth personal foul and went to the bench. Foul shots by the Nighthawks kept them in the game at 39-37 until Rossman hit a deuce with no time left to give the Trojans a 41-37 lead after three quarters.
The frantic fourth quarter opened up with Rossman picking up his third foul with Levene still on the bench.
Junior Justin Mettel picked up the slack for the Trojans by scoring two of his eight points in the fourth quarter and getting fouled in the attempt to make it Weston 44, Newtown 39. The Nighthawks came right back with a three to make it 44-42 and then tied the game at 44 with 5:45 left.
With Levene and Baron shuttling back and forth, Weston remained on top. At the 4:30 mark, Newtown went ahead by one and then up 49-46 with just over three minutes left. The pace of the game was frenzied. Andrew Baron was fouled and made both free throws to put the Trojans within one, 49-48.
Weston couldn't seem to find the bottom of the net and Newtown kept hitting important foul shots.
Errico called a timeout with just under one minute left to plan the final seconds of play. The Trojans responded with Mettel nailing a trey to put the Trojans up by two.
With 14.5 seconds left, Weston got the ball back and was in control, but couldn't score the clincher. Seconds later, Baron fouled out and Newtown's Andy Lapple made two free throws to tie it 53-53.
Levene's last second 10-footer missed and the game went into overtime. Errico said, "We had the chance to close it out with 14 seconds left and just couldn't do it."
The four-minute overtime belonged to Newtown. The Nighthawks came out running and pressing and with Weston's big men in foul trouble, the Trojans could only manage three overtime points, all by Rossman.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Errico had nothing but praise for his squad. "This team is very passionate. They were very confident going in and played their hearts out. We've almost beat this team twice now and Newtown is 8-1 in LL."
When asked about Levene's great play (20 points), Errico said, "I put the challenge out to Dennis to put this team on his shoulders and he's responded. I'm very proud of his performance and that of the whole team."