By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights entered last week as winners of nine of their last 11 games. They left last week with three-straight losses. But two losses came against the top two teams in Division II, and the other ripped out of their hands on a last-second shot in double-overtime.
Turnovers plagued the Knights with Southington turning the ball over more than 30 times during the three game skid. In that stretch, the Knights played three teams that were guard-oriented. Southington coach John Cessario said that turning the ball over against guard-oriented teams will always punish a team’s goal of winning games.
“We need to be better with the ball and find space for our bigs to punish teams if our bigs are to be considered comparable or better,” said Cessario. “We need to execute better offensively. To be better defensively allows us to get into transition. That’s what we want to more of in the fourth quarter of our season.”
With five games remaining in the regular season, four of those being conference games, the Knights are currently tied for 12th in the CCC. Southington’s still in the hunt for the 16-team CCC Tournament.
“We want to limit our turnovers to 10 or less over a 32-minute game, we want the best shots available, and we want to be playing our best,” said Cessario. “We need to perfect things if we want to play deep into the postseason.”
The Knights (9-6) will be back on the hardwood this week when they host Cheshire (9-7) and Conard (6-8).
Loss at Simsbury
JAN. 29—Southington’s five-game winning streak was snapped on Monday after the Knights suffered their largest loss, 62-46, of the season at Simsbury. The Trojans are currently the top team in Division II and second in the CCC.
The Trojans wasted no time with 22 points in the first quarter, beginning the game with an 8-0 run on a pair of three-pointers, and never gave the Knights a chance to get back into the game. They took a 19-point lead at the half and committed just six turnovers in the game, going 10-for-14 from the foul line.
“For much emphasis that could be placed on the offensive side, Simsbury’s very well known for disrupting offenses defensively, and that’s exactly what they did to us,” said Cessario. “We actually played them pretty well for the last three quarters, but for the second time in two years, we didn’t come out in the first quarter against such a solid team like that.”
Three Trojans finished with double-digit points, as Ralph Gillard (18), Jackson Butler (17), and Jalen Williams (15) combined for 50 of the team’s 62 points. Butler accounted for five of the team’s eight threes.
Jeremy Mercier paced the offense with 19 points and grabbed a team high of eight rebounds. Billy Wadolowski (4 rebounds, 2 assists) contributed with 10 points.
Loss vs. Avon
FEB. 1—The Knights dropped their first home loss of the season a few days later after falling, 59-47, to Avon.
The Knights led by three points at the end of the first quarter, but trailed by eight at the half, as the Falcons were able to knock down five of their eight three-pointers in the second for a boost of 22 points. The Knights managed to keep the game within reach in the second half, coming as close as four of the Falcons in the fourth, but forced contested shots and a poor night from the field by the Knights helped the Falcons pull away.
“We did not shoot very well tonight at all,” said Cessario. “There was no rhythm or flow to our offense. Not to take anything away from Avon, but this is the one thing I can’t give them. It’s not like they were really bothering us. I just felt like our offense was very stagnant.”
The Knights profited from half of their 10 attempts at the foul line in the game, while the Falcons made 12 of their 19 attempts in the fourth, going 19-for-29 from the charity stripe in the game. Jordan Williams led the Falcons with 24 points.
Andrew Lohneiss and Mercier paced the offense with 13 points each. Colin Burdette contributed with nine points.
Loss at Wethersfield
FEB. 3—The Knights rounded out the week on Saturday with their third-straight loss, 64-60, at Wethersfield in double overtime, which was their third overtime contest of the season. Wethersfield is currently second in Division II and third in the CCC.
Canning five of their eight three-pointers in the first half helped propel the Knights to a four-point advantage at the half. They extended their lead to eight by the end of the third quarter, but couldn’t hold on.
The Eagles managed to knot the score with 18 points in the fourth, eventually sending the contest into extra periods on a deep three at the buzzer. The last-second shot deflated the Knights, as the Eagles outscored the Knights, 14-10, in both overtimes combined. Southington’s largest lead of the game was as many as 10 points, which came minutes before halftime.
“It had a state tournament feel to it,” said Cessario. “When you have a 10-point lead against a team like that, you have to learn how to close out games. But that kind of a game really prepares us for other teams similar to that of Division III, and that experience on the road with that much adversity is something we’ll benefit from in the long run.”
The Eagles made six of their 11 trifectas in the second half and went 13-for-20 from the foul line. Jimmy Sullivan (22) and Mike Mozzicato (22) combined for Wethersfield’s 44 points.
After recording a season low of four points at Simsbury earlier in the week, Lohneiss (4 assists, 3 steals) paced the offense with a season high of 25 points and shared a team-leading eight rebounds, going 4-for-6 from the charity stripe. Ryan Gesnaldo (4 assists) backed Lohneiss with 16 points on four treys.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2018/02/06/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-feb-9-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.