By KEVIN ROBERTS
Look for an example of a team that’s together and determined to succeed, and you’ll find the Southington boys basketball team. The Blue Knights have worked their way into the Division II state tournament by winning four in a row and five of their last six games.
The latest Southington victory was a good one, 55-38, at Avon on Feb. 2. The Knights had four players score in double figures: Jared Kelly (15 points); Adam Hunter (13); Billy Wadolowski (12); and Colin Burdette (10). Burdette passed out six assists while Kelly added three of his own. On the backboards, Wadolowski led the way with 10 rebounds, followed by Burdette with seven, Ryan Gesnaldo with six, and Hunter with five. Southington improved to 8-6 and clinched a berth in the state tournament with the victory.
“It’s the third year in a row that members of a close-knit team came together when needed to earn that postseason berth,” coach John Cessario said. “They don’t just do it for themselves. Rather it’s a continuum for the players from prior seasons that unselfishly dedicated themselves to being a part of something bigger than themselves. I am very proud of this group for this accomplishment.”
Avon may not wow with its record (4-10), but it’s a hard-nosed and well-coached group, according to Cessario. It’s always tough to win on the road, too.
“To win on the road as we’ve always said in this conference is very important,” Cessario said. “We were prepared and created some opportunities against this very good team. We wanted a solid defensive showing with our man to man and I feel that our players delivered.”
Southington shot 42.9 percent from the floor to Avon’s 31.3, and the Knights outrebounded the Falcons, 40-24. Southington also had nine steals to five thefts for Avon. Gesnaldo led the Knights with three steals while Burdette and Kelly added two apiece. Southington doesn’t look like a team that started the season 1-3 and finished the first half at 4-6.
“We have hungry and never-satisfied players on this team,” Cessario said. “The learning curve has been steep for some of them and those first 10 games of the season required much attention to detail. That attention remains in a growth mode. The fact that we are all finally healthy, both on the injury and illness front, and seeing the results we expect because of the hard work that they put in has us with very positive momentum right now.”
Up next: Southington was scheduled to begin a busy week at Tolland on Tuesday. The Knights were slated for a makeup game against Simsbury at home on Wednesday night. The game was rescheduled from Jan. 29. Southington hosts Hall on Friday at 6:45 p.m., in the final home game of the regular season.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com