By KEVIN ROBERTS
The Southington boys basketball team encountered its first adversity of the season in losses to Glastonbury and Farmington. While the Blue Knights were able to find positives in a 52-49 home loss to the Tomahawks, they didn’t find many in a 66-51 road defeat against the Indians.
Southington fell to 1-2 on the season and will look to turn things around as 2018 turns into 2019. Here’s what happened in last week’s games:
DEC. 18—The Blue Knights gave themselves a chance to win against a potential Top 10 team, but the Tomahawks did what they had to do to get away from the Walt Lozoski gym with the victory.
“What it really comes down to is shot selection late and making free throws when it counts,” coach John Cessario said. “If you dare come up short in a one-possession game, you can put it under the microscope and come up with every play imaginable. The reality is we took steps forward in a loss, and coaches can almost live with that being that it’s so early in the season, and these type of games do help us prepare for upcoming games.”
Southington missed four of six free throws in the final 1:54 of the game. The misses may have helped keep the Knights from grabbing a big early-season victory, but Cessario said he loved the effort from his guys.
Colin Burdette led Southington with 16 points to go along with four assists, four rebounds and three steals. Jake Napoli added 13 points and a team-high six rebounds. Ryan Gesnaldo tallied nine points, five assists and two steals. Those weren’t the only good efforts for the Knights.
“We had some good contributions from [Adam] Hunter, and we had good contributions from Jake DelMonte,” Cessario said. “It really just comes down to that last two minutes of the game. When we watch our film, we’ll ensure our guys will be better than they were today.”
Southington held a 38-29 lead with 4:20 to play in the third quarter, but the Tomahawks outscored them, 23-11, the rest of the way. Jack Shea started to assert himself inside for Glastonbury and was helped by fellow big Cameron Steipock.
“Defensively, we did everything we could to keep that big fella off the glass,” Cessario said of the effort against Shea.
Shea finished with a game-high 18 points. Stiepock scored 15 points while Aaron Latham added 12. Glastonbury made 13 of its 15 foul shots.
For the game’s first 24 minutes, Southington showed its potential. The Knights played “small ball” and essentially went with a “four and half” guard lineup, Cessario said.
“They potentially have three all-conference players and maybe even two all-state players. We needed to do things differently and we did,” Cessario said. “We felt like we came into this so prepared and so confident, and it showed in the first 24 minutes that we can play with a team that could possibly be in the Top 10 in the state.”
Southington pulled the ball out toward the corners near half-court and used dribble drives and patient sets to create offense. The Knights led 10-8 after the first quarter and trailed by just a point at halftime, 25-24. Southington took time off the clock and got good shots throughout the first two and a half quarters.
The Knights were able to build a nine-point lead in the third quarter, but the Tomahawks showed why they’re going to be a tough team to beat this season.
“I find solace in our efforts, I find an enthusiasm in our guys, I find disappointment because they’re competitors, but I also know that my guys are gamers and they’re going to be ready to go for practice to prepare for our next one,” Cessario said.
DEC. 21—Southington led at the half, but they didn’t play well in the second half against the Indians and left Farmington with a second straight loss.
Burdette and Napoli scored 10 points each while Kelly added nine points. Hunter tallied eight points while Billy Wadolowski and Gesnaldo chipped in seven apiece. Southington led 30-25 at halftime, but Farmington (3-0) outscored the visiting Blue Knights 41-21 in the second half.
Makiti Hawkins had 21 points and Jacob Smith added 18 points for the Indians. Hawkins scored 14 of his 21 points after the halftime break. Grayson Herr scored eight of his 10 points, including two 3-pointers, in the second half for Farmington.
Up next: Southington plays games in the New Canaan Christmas Tournament on Thursday and Saturday at Shelton High School. The tournament rotates between the different schools and is slated to be hosted by Southington next season. The Blue Knights faced Shelton on Thursday. Southington will play either New Canaan or East Windsor on Saturday.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com