Staples basketball edged by Newtown in final seconds
Updated 9:11 pm, Wednesday, December 30, 2015
NEWTOWN — Having seen chances to claim its first win of the season go by way of overtime over the last week, the Newtown boys basketball team was looking at another close loss to start the season.
And in the blink of an eye, or a whistle in this case, the Nighthawks were in firm control and wrapped up a win to get off the blocks in 2015-2016.
After being fouled with his team down a point with 4.8 seconds left — with a technical foul committed by Staples to boot — Tom Cotton sank three of four free throws and Newtown prevailed 41-39 over Staples Wednesday in the consolation game of a holiday tournament hosted by the Nighthawks. Newtown (1-3) notched its first win of the season while Staples dropped to 2-2 after another heartbreaking loss.
“After playing two straight overtime games and a double overtime game, I’ll take any break I can get,” said Newtown coach Tim Tallcouch, referring to losses to Stamford and Kolbe Cathedral. “It was a hard fought game by both teams, Staples played hard and our kids played very hard. I just wanted to get one win and I have one win now.”
Cotton took both the technical foul shots and his pair from the personal foul, and Newtown retook possession looking to run out the clock. Staples fouled immediately and hauled in the rebound after the Nighthawks missed two free throws, but a halfcourt heave as time expired fell short.
“He’s on the line for a reason, it was a great job by Tom Cotton,” Tallcouch said. “He’s got a little ice water in those veins.”
The game began as a gritty defensive battle and remained that way until the final possession. The Wreckers appeared to have wrestled control, earning possession of the ball while leading 39-36 with less than 1:30 to go.
But Staples missed the front end of a pair of one-and-one opportunities, and despite making just two field goals in the fourth quarter, Newtown came out on top at the foul line.
“It was a defensive battle, and it was just unfortunate we coulnd’t put them away with one final stop,” said Wreckers assistant Mike Buswell. “Regardless of what happened out there we left it all out on the court and there’s not much more you can ask for.”
Staples junior Sean Pritchett led his team’s efforts at both end of the court, scoring a game-high 17 points and dominated on defense with numerous steals and blocks. Pritchett scored 13 in a one-point loss to Wilton Monday.
“If there’s a bright side to take out of this it’s that this was probably Sean’s best offensive game,” Buswell said. “He really got into a rhythm; his offensive ability really showed throughout the entire game. He’s a dynamic player because he can guard inside and outside.”
Neither team led by more than five points as Newtown keyed in on Staples sharpshooter Ben Casparius, and Staples on counterpart Joe Duero. The Nighthawks got 11 points from Mason Merillo in the victory.
The Wreckers will begin their 16-game FCIAC schedule Tuesday at Trumbull, while Newtown hosts Masuk on Monday.
NEWTOWN 41, STAPLES 39
Ben Casparius 2 0-0 5 Justin Seideman 2 0-1 4 Sean Pritchett 5 7-10 17 Dylan Dreyfuss 3 2-2 10 Jared Vishno 0 0-0 0 Brendan Massoud 0 0-1 0 Max Sussman 1 0-0 3. Totals: 13 9-14 39.
Dillon Polumbo 3 0-2 7 Sam Duffy 2 0-1 4 Tom Cotton 2 5-8 9 Nevim Zink 2 1-4 5 Mason Merillo 3 4-5 11 Sam Grossano 0 2-2 2 Joe Duero 1 0-0 3. Totals: 13 12-22 41.
STAPLES 5 12 12 10—39
NEWTOWN 7 11 11 12—41
3-pointers: S—Casparius, Dreyfuss 2, Sussman; N—Duero, Merillo, Polumbo.