By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights haven’t lost a game by more than eight points in any of their three losses and are winners of five of their last seven as they approach the midpoint of the regular season. Last week, the Knights added two more notches to their belt.
Veteran leadership is becoming more and more evident, and Southington coach John Cessario said that the team’s older players are playing with experience…as they should.
“They have to play like seasoned players, and they are seriously doing that,” the coach said. “They are helped by the younger guys and are pushed by them every day in practice. And they’re taking the floor.”
The wins haven’t come without a price. The Knights have suffered key injuries to the starting lineup along the way, but Cessario said that commitment is easing the pain.
“To deal with this from a life-lesson perspective, they’ve all got to deal with it,” said Cessario. “It’s great to see them enjoy each other’s company. They really like each other and work hard for one another.”
The Knights will be back on the hardwood this week when they travel to Newington (2-6) before returning home on Friday to face NW Catholic (4-3). Southington is 5-3.
Win vs. Hall
JAN. 8—The Knights began the week with a 61-48 victory over Hall at home on Monday in their first divisional contest of the season.
The Knights trailed by a point at halftime, but managed to pull away on a combined offensive spark of 35 points by Tim O’Shea (16 points), Jeremy Mercier (10 points, 3 steals), and Cam Clynes (9 points) in the second half. As a team, the Knights went 15 for 19 from the foul line in the second half after making just one free throw in the first half.
“What they were able to do was maintain a little bit of control of the ball in the first half,” said Cessario. “They really took it to us in their shot selection. I thought their selective shot taking was tremendous, and they shot a high percentage. We just got the best of them in the second half.”
O’Shea had just two points in the first half, but went on to pace the offense by scoring 14 points in the second half. O’Shea was backed by Andrew Lohneiss’ (7 rebounds, 3 blocks) 15 points. Mercier and Clynes made all of their baskets in the second half, as Clynes went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
Loss at Conard
JAN. 9—Down by a pair with time winding down in the fourth quarter the next day, Southington knotted the score with a layup as time expired. However, the shot was waved off, and the Knights suffered their third loss of the season, 59-57, at divisional Conard.
The Chieftains led by a point at halftime, but heated up beyond the arc, making seven of their 11 three-pointers in the second half. Conard’s Larry Womack (23 points) paced the Chieftain offense by canning seven triples.
“We basically were outplayed on the other team’s offensive side of the floor. We didn’t defend very well, and they hit shots,” said Cessario. “We stayed with it, but we didn’t hold a nine-point lead. This is the CCC. Anyone can beat anyone.”
Andrew Lohneiss (9 rebounds, 3 assists) paced the Knight offense with 20 points off a triad of threes. Mercier (4 rebounds) contributed with 14 points.
O’Shea went down with a leg injury within the first two minutes of the game. There isn’t a timetable on his return, but Cessario said that he hopes to have him back in the next couple of weeks or so.
Win vs. Bloomfield
JAN. 11—The Knights bounced back from Tuesday’s loss to cap off the week with a decisive 46-29 victory over Bloomfield at home on Thursday, earning their fifth win of the season. The Warhawks posted a season high of 91 points in a win over Hartford Public in their previous game.
The Knights led by three points at halftime after holding the Warhawks to just five points in the second quarter and pulled away by taming Bloomfield’s late, full-court press in the second half. The Warhawks fell into early foul trouble, as the disciplined Knights only committed four team fouls in the contest.
“We overemphasize defense, especially after giving up 50-plus points a couple nights ago,” said Cessario. “We had it stamped in practice yesterday, that if you’re not playing the perimeter, you’re not going to be able to play that much because we won’t be able to win.”
Lohneiss (7 rebounds, 3 assists) paced the offense with 18 points on four three-pointers. Mercier (9 rebounds) backed Lohneiss with 11 points, and Colin Burdette (6 assists, 4 steals) contributed with nine.
Billy Wadolowski came off the bench to fill in for the injured O’Shea. Adam Hunter missed the game, due to illness.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2018/01/16/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-jan-19-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.