Boys Basketball: Growing pains continue for boys hoops

Jacob Flynn, left, and Colin Burdette, right, double-team a Bristol ballhandler during a 47-39 loss to start the new year. Defense paid off in the second contest with a win over Conard.

By KEVIN ROBERTS

STAFF WRITER

Southington boys basketball pulled within a win of the .500 mark after splitting two games last week. The Blue Knights lost 47-39 to Bristol Central on Jan. 2, but defeated Conard 52-40 on Jan. 4.

Both games were inside the friendly confines of the Walt Lozoski Gymnasium. Here’s more about each game:

Loss to Bristol Central

JAN. 2—The big man stood between the Knights and the basket like an angry man with a flyswatter, brushing away Southington’s shots as if they were pesky insects on a hot, summer day. On Wednesday, the Knights opened the new year with one of their biggest challenges: a 6 foot, 8.5 inch freshman center, Donovan Clingan, who had 11 points, 22 rebounds and 11 blocks.

“The big fella did do some damage, blocked a bunch of shots. That to me was his biggest asset,” Cessario said. “Yes he got some buckets in the first half, but the fact that he was altering shots as much as he was and making us shoot from the outside, which I thought we were going to be known for. Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot the ball well tonight.”

Southington made four 3-pointers but wasn’t able to get Bristol Central out of its zone defense. Jacob Flynn led the Knights with 15 points, including one 3-pointer. Jake Napoli added nine points, including two 3-pointers. Adam Hunter led the team in rebounds with 10.

The Knights got a tip-in from Colin Burdette at the first quarter buzzer to cut the Ram lead to 12-9. Bristol Central upped its lead to 27-21 by halftime, then it was 37-30 by the end of the third quarter.

The Rams led 39-30 early in the fourth quarter, but the Knights ripped off nine straight points to tie the game at 39 with 2:45 to go. Napoli made a 3-pointer, Flynn and DelMonte scored off of steals, and Flynn added another bucket on a fast break.

Bristol Central scored the game’s final eight points to take the victory. Clingan scored on back-to-back buckets to put the Rams up 43-39 with 1:44 to go. Cessario said that reserve Jacob DelMonte did the best job defensively against Clingan.

Defense, rally lead to win

JAN. 4—The Knights started slow against the Chieftains, but the defense sped up the game, which led to a big run and a nice win at home.

Jared Kelly led a balanced Southington attack with 12 points. Napoli struck for 11 points, Hunter had 10 points, and Ryan Gesnaldo connected for seven points for the Knights. Burdette led the rebounding effort with six boards.

Southington trailed 12-6 late in the first quarter, but a Napoli three-point play cut the deficit to 12-9. It turned out to be the opening blow in an 18-0 burst by the Knights.

“What it came down to was the defense that created those opportunities,” Cessario said.

Gesnaldo nailed a 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to tie the game 12-12. The run continued on Gesnaldo’s jumper to open the second quarter. Napoli scored off of a steal to make it 16-12. Kelly buried a 3-pointer off a nice look from Gesnaldo, then Burdette came up with a steal and flew in for a layup. The Knights led 21-12, and the Chieftains needed a timeout with 6:12 left in the second quarter. The onslaught had one final salvo, which came on Gaudio’s 3-pointer, to make the score 24-12.

“It was a very community-oriented effort tonight,” Cessario said.

Cessario said the Knights love the energy that Gaudio, a JV player last year, brings to the varsity lineup. At one point in the fourth quarter, Gaudio spun away from a steal attempt and hit a shot to put the Knights up 46-30.

The Chieftains were reeling and called a timeout with 4:58 to play in the game.

“It is tremendous to have him feel that success because the guys love him,” Cessario said. “What he was able to by defending the basketball, and then he was able to hit a couple open looks. He so deserves it.”

Gaudio was just one member of the stable of Southington guards that pounded away at Conard. Gaudio teamed with Burdette, Kelly and Napoli in handling the basketball.

“We really handled the ball very well, and the interior passing is where it was really on,” Cessario said. “We were actually giving up shots to get other guys better shots.”

The good passing was never more evident than on back-to-back fast breaks in the second quarter. On one fast break, Hunter and Gaudio played a beautiful two-man game, which Hunter finished with a layup.

Later in the quarter, Burdette found Kelly, who fed Hunter for another layup and a 31-20 lead that the Knights took into halftime.

“We had a very good night handling the ball,” Cessario said.

Southington’s lead remained at 11 points after three quarters, 38-27. The Chieftains closed to within eight points early in the fourth quarter, but an 8-0 burst from the Knights put the game out of reach.

Up next: The Knights were scheduled for two road games. Southington was at Hall on Monday night, then traveled to Bloomfield on Thursday night.

Southington boys basketball pulled within a win of the .500 mark after splitting two games last week. The Blue Knights lost 47-39 to Bristol Central on Jan. 2, but defeated Conard 52-40 on Jan. 4.

Both games were inside the friendly confines of the Walt Lozoski Gymnasium. Here’s more about each game:

Loss to Bristol Central

JAN. 2—The big man stood between the Knights and the basket like an angry man with a flyswatter, brushing away Southington’s shots as if they were pesky insects on a hot, summer day. On Wednesday, the Knights opened the new year with one of their biggest challenges: a 6 foot, 8.5 inch freshman center, Donovan Clingan, who had 11 points, 22 rebounds and 11 blocks.

“The big fella did do some damage, blocked a bunch of shots. That to me was his biggest asset,” Cessario said. “Yes he got some buckets in the first half, but the fact that he was altering shots as much as he was and making us shoot from the outside, which I thought we were going to be known for. Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot the ball well tonight.”

Southington made four 3-pointers but wasn’t able to get Bristol Central out of its zone defense. Jacob Flynn led the Knights with 15 points, including one 3-pointer. Jake Napoli added nine points, including two 3-pointers. Adam Hunter led the team in rebounds with 10.

The Knights got a tip-in from Colin Burdette at the first quarter buzzer to cut the Ram lead to 12-9. Bristol Central upped its lead to 27-21 by halftime, then it was 37-30 by the end of the third quarter.

The Rams led 39-30 early in the fourth quarter, but the Knights ripped off nine straight points to tie the game at 39 with 2:45 to go. Napoli made a 3-pointer, Flynn and DelMonte scored off of steals, and Flynn added another bucket on a fast break.

Bristol Central scored the game’s final eight points to take the victory. Clingan scored on back-to-back buckets to put the Rams up 43-39 with 1:44 to go. Cessario said that reserve Jacob DelMonte did the best job defensively against Clingan.

Defense, rally lead to win

JAN. 4—The Knights started slow against the Chieftains, but the defense sped up the game, which led to a big run and a nice win at home.

Jared Kelly led a balanced Southington attack with 12 points. Napoli struck for 11 points, Hunter had 10 points, and Ryan Gesnaldo connected for seven points for the Knights. Burdette led the rebounding effort with six boards.

Southington trailed 12-6 late in the first quarter, but a Napoli three-point play cut the deficit to 12-9. It turned out to be the opening blow in an 18-0 burst by the Knights.

“What it came down to was the defense that created those opportunities,” Cessario said.

Gesnaldo nailed a 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to tie the game 12-12. The run continued on Gesnaldo’s jumper to open the second quarter. Napoli scored off of a steal to make it 16-12. Kelly buried a 3-pointer off a nice look from Gesnaldo, then Burdette came up with a steal and flew in for a layup. The Knights led 21-12, and the Chieftains needed a timeout with 6:12 left in the second quarter. The onslaught had one final salvo, which came on Gaudio’s 3-pointer, to make the score 24-12.

“It was a very community-oriented effort tonight,” Cessario said.

Cessario said the Knights love the energy that Gaudio, a JV player last year, brings to the varsity lineup. At one point in the fourth quarter, Gaudio spun away from a steal attempt and hit a shot to put the Knights up 46-30.

The Chieftains were reeling and called a timeout with 4:58 to play in the game.

“It is tremendous to have him feel that success because the guys love him,” Cessario said. “What he was able to by defending the basketball, and then he was able to hit a couple open looks. He so deserves it.”

Gaudio was just one member of the stable of Southington guards that pounded away at Conard. Gaudio teamed with Burdette, Kelly and Napoli in handling the basketball.

“We really handled the ball very well, and the interior passing is where it was really on,” Cessario said. “We were actually giving up shots to get other guys better shots.”

The good passing was never more evident than on back-to-back fast breaks in the second quarter. On one fast break, Hunter and Gaudio played a beautiful two-man game, which Hunter finished with a layup.

Later in the quarter, Burdette found Kelly, who fed Hunter for another layup and a 31-20 lead that the Knights took into halftime.

“We had a very good night handling the ball,” Cessario said.

Southington’s lead remained at 11 points after three quarters, 38-27. The Chieftains closed to within eight points early in the fourth quarter, but an 8-0 burst from the Knights put the game out of reach.

Up next: The Knights were scheduled for two road games. Southington was at Hall on Monday night, then traveled to Bloomfield on Thursday night.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com

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