Boys open the season with 2 state powers

Mark Lindberg fights through a block during a loss to Weaver on Monday, Dec. 21.

Mark Lindberg fights through a block during a loss to Weaver on Monday, Dec. 21.

A very tough draw to kick off the 2015-16 season left the Blue Knights boys basketball team with an 0-2 record.

Southington opened up their season on the road in West Hartford on Saturday, Dec. 19, where they fell short to the Lions of Northwest Catholic (2-0), 54-37. NW Catholic built a lead of 27-11 by halftime.

Nate Blitz and Joe Koczera led the Knights with eight points apiece, both with two three-pointers. Mark Lindberg contributed with five points.

Patrick Lazor of NW Catholic led all scorers with 20 points.

Southington returned home two days later on Monday to host Weaver (2-0), but fell short by a margin of 45 points, 84-39. The Beavers headed into the locker rooms with a 41-17 lead by halftime, returning to put up 27 points on the board in the fourth quarter alone.

Lindberg paced the Knights with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 4-for-10 from the field. Jeremy Mercier (seven rebounds) contributed with seven points and Blitz with six. As a team, the Knights committed 33 turnovers.

KeAndre Fair of Weaver led all scorers with 23 points, one of three players in double digits. The Beavers sunk 14 three-pointers, three less of their two-point field goals.

“We have to play more basketball in the off-season,” said Southington coach John Cessario. “We saw a speed, recognition, shooting ability, and a lot of other things from a third-ranked team [Weaver] in the state. They got better because they were able to shoot the ball well. When you have that ability, and it gets enhanced with the threes that they were hitting, it’s a tough matchup.”

Although it was tough to understand progress through a 45-point loss, Cessario said that he saw definitive improvements from his team in the game.

“I thought that guys continued to play hard,” the coach said. “We had some looks offensively that gave us a chance to be in a scoring opportunity. Sometimes we finished, sometimes we didn’t. We went on a 6-0 run in the second quarter. Defensively, we were a little slow to attack, but I think we got a little bit more recognizable in our two-three zone. We definitively rebounded better. When they missed, we were able to compete. Not for nothing, you’re going up against two teams [NW Catholic, Weaver] that could both very well be in the top 10 in the state by midyear.”

Weaver has been in the state championship game for the past three years, losing to East Catholic in the 2014 Class M championship game and Granby in the 2013 Class S championship game (double overtime), but winning the state title in last season’s Class M State Tournament over Notre Dame (Fairfield). Since last season, Weaver has moved from Class M to Class LL.

NW Catholic finished as runner-ups in the 2012 and 2011 Class L state championship games.

The Knights will head out back on the road for an away game at Simsbury (0-1) on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Leave a Reply