While entering their game Thursday against Maloney with a 6-2 record, Southington boys basketball has hit a rough patch in their season. After starting the season 5-0, the Blue Knights have dropped two of their last three.
In each loss, Southington had trouble making a comeback from a halftime deficit. But head coach John Cessario’s squad is still in the top-10 in Division II, though the schedule does not get easier in the second half of the season.
Here is a recap from the past week:
JAN. 9—Southington bounced back after their first loss of the season in a rebound victory over Simsbury. The Knights used big first and third quarter performances to separate themselves from the Trojans.
Southington held Simsbury to just 29% shooting and outrebounded them 38-25. Aidan Derrick, who is averaging close to 16 rebounds per game so far this season, racked up 21 more in this one, including five on the offensive glass.
Jared Kelly led the Knights with 17 points and three assist while Jake Napoli added 15 points. Napoli and Kelly combined for 6-of-11 from three-point range.
Loss at Avon
JAN. 13—Southington was dealing with a similar situation against Avon as when they travelled to Conard a week prior. They were down five at halftime and had to climb back in it.
The Knights showed intensity in the second half but Avon’s defense made it difficult for Southington to even attempt a shot and forced some quick turnovers. Avon’s biggest lead in the third quarter was 14 but Southington was able to bring back within single digits before the end of the quarter.
Avon also had a similar lineup to Conard with four to five players who can shoot from the outside. Southington’s strength this season has been their size with Derrick and Zach Zembrzuski. However, both big men were forced out of the game due to Avon’s presence on the perimeter.
“We care about getting better everyday and we did not show signs of looking better against Avon,” Cessario said. “We have got to improve our defense on the perimeter. Even Simsbury’s leading scorer against us gave us trouble from the outside. Maloney will also have a similar lineup when we take them on Thursday. With basketball becoming more of a guards game, we will have to clean up our perimeter defense.”
Southington was able to muster just six points in the fourth quarter as they took the loss. Napoli and Kelly combined for 33 of the team’s 38 points, including 15 of the team’s 18 points in the second half.
The Blue Knight’s schedule coming up won’t get any easier, as Maloney (6-3) and NW Catholic (7-1) have a combined four losses. Glastonbury is 5-2 while Manchester is 4-3 and just scored 99 points in their last game against Enfield.
Cessario said the team is not going to hang their heads on the past losses too long.
“We just want to continue to chug along,” Cessario said. “Our goal is still to make it to the tournament. We have won against the teams we should beat but we need to be more consistent with teams that have won their games. We can’t take it all, especially in such a strong conference. We have eight days off in between Maloney and NW Catholic which I think will do us some good.”
The Knights were at Maloney on Thursday. They will play again next Friday at NW Catholic.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.