By BRIAN JENNINGS
It is simply not a question of effort, nor is it a question of buying into the system. Southington coach John Cessario believes in his guys and appreciates the hard work they are giving him, day in and day out.
Even if the final score doesn’t show it.
“I think they’re giving us every ounce of the effort that they’re current basketball ability gives us,” said Cessario. “Our practices have been very solid. We finally have a team that we thought we could compete against, and we did.”
The Blue Knights basketball team came close to winning their first game of the season on Saturday, Jan. 9, but came up short against Farmington, 42-32, in a defensive struggle.
“Where you could only put up 32 points, it comes down to sticking with a game plan, and we didn’t stick to a game plan in the second half for whatever reason,” the coach said. “I don’t believe that it’s going against anything that our philosophy and culture are trying to create. I don’t have any doubts in all of the higher basketball IQs that we’re trying to develop.”
Mike DeFeo, John Mikosz (6 rebounds), and Mark Lindberg (11 rebounds, 10 defensive rebounds) all scored six points. Nate Blitz and Jeremy Mercier (5 rebounds) both contributed with five points.
Sam Roy led the Indians with 13 points.
“We knew they were going to come at us with a half-court trap, whether it be a 1-3-1 or a 1-2-2,” said Cessario. “We need to attack sidelines and get the ball to the middle of the floor, which is what we were very successful in doing in the first half. We were also able to reverse the basketball for open looks and attack the baseline. I think the most important part of it all was how committed we were defensively tonight. Part of our game plan is to take a defensive pride to the floor, and I felt like we did that.”
Farmington scored six points in the first 45 seconds of the game, but scored only five points over the next 16 minutes, including just one point in the second quarter. The Knights went on to hold the Indians to 11 points in the second half. The Indians shot 16-for-26 (61.5 percent) from the free throw line.
Cessario said that his team shot the ball terrific in the first half, but started taking deep shots late in the game, which led to a below par shot selection in the second half.
Southington began the week on Monday with a game on the road at Glastonbury (3-4) where they fell short by 13 points, 70-57.
Lindberg (three assists, three rebounds) and Mercier (eight rebounds) paced the offense with 15 points apiece. Blitz contributed 12 points.
Ian Halpin led the Tomahawks with 30 points.
A few days later on Thursday, the Knights lost to a tough, state title contender at Windsor (8-0), 104-30. The Warriors are currently tied for first place in Class L with Newington (8-0).
Lindberg led Southington with nine points. Blitz contributed five points. Mike Gamble led the Warriors with 25 points.
The Knights are set to travel to West Hartford to play Hall (3-4) on Monday, Jan. 11, host Conard (1-7) on Thursday, Jan. 14, and will head back out on the road to square up with Class M’s Plainville (2-6) on Saturday, Jan. 16.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.