The Blue Knights were able to get a good look but came up just short. With five seconds left and trailing by three, Southington’s Joe Gaudio was able to shoot a wide open three-pointer off a pump fake, but his shot bounced off the front of the rim and Newington (4-9) escaped with a 48-45 win.
With the loss, Southington (7-4) entered this week dropping three of their last four games, and lost consecutive games for the first time this season.
The 14-12 lead after the first quarter was already slim for Southington but then the Indians came alive in the second quarter, outscoring the Knights 17-9 for a six-point halftime lead. In the first half, Southington shot 4-of-12 from the free throw line.
Southington’s offense began making a comeback in the third quarter, with Dylan Olson scoring eight of the team’s 15 points in the quarter. However, Olson was dealing with foul trouble so his contributions were limited for most of the fourth quarter.
The Knights were able to stop Newington on defense in the fourth quarter and the Indians missed four free throws in the quarter, but they were held to just one field goal in the final period themselves.
“We played more like our opponent would have expected us to rather than the other way around,” head coach John Cessario said.
Cessario credited sloppy play, poor shot selection and missing more than 10 shots at the free throw line as big reasons for the loss. On the other hand, the Indians seemed to capitalize on their chances.
“They hit a lot of tough one-on-one shots,” said Cessario. “We have been on the winning side of these kinds of games but in a conference like the CCC, those kinds of wins are not guaranteed against anyone.”
The Blue Knights finished the game 11-of-24 from the foul line. Jared Kelly led all scorers with 15 to go with two assists and three rebounds. Jake Napoli had an uncharacteristic night shooting, finishing with 13 points on 3-of-7 shooting and 5-of-12 from the foul line.
Olson had 10 of his career-high 14 points in the second half, and also had five rebounds and two steals.
Cessario said the team will continue its “one game at a time approach,” especially with five games in 10 days, beginning with their games against Manchester and Glastonbury earlier this week.
“We carry short-term memory with wins and losses,” Cessario said. “We just have to concentrate on what is in front of us. We can’t change what has happened in the past. It’s done. We still have plenty of good competition ahead.”
The Knights entered this week ranked 15th in Division II, and 10th in the CCC, though they are tied in the loss column with the next four teams ahead of them. The Knights were still looking for their qualifying eighth win heading into the week.
Southington hosted Manchester (8-5) on Tuesday (Feb. 4) before travelling to Glastonbury (9-3) on Thursday (Feb. 6). They will travel to Fairfield Prep (6-8) tomorrow night (Feb. 8) at 7 p.m. and they host Farmington (7-4) on Monday (Feb. 10) at 6:45 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at Sports@SouthingtonObserver.com.