NAUGATUCK — With the boys state basketball tournament up next, Naugy’s recent string of victories has shown how dangerous the ‘Hounds can be.
The Greyhounds (11-10) put the Naugatuck Valley League on notice last week with back-to-back wins over Kennedy and Wilby, the latter of which was ranked No. 6 in state at the time. Naugatuck made it three in a row with a win over Torrington, a team that knocked off Naugy earlier in the season.
It was a 67-63 loss at Torrington on Jan. 4 that capped a four-game losing streak at the time. After that game, Naugy won eight of 12 to close out the regular season with an 11-9 record overall record.
Naugy’s five seniors — Matt Bradley, Jerome Love, Husani Foote, Mick Pernell and Brandon Kuczenski — all left the court last Wednesday to loud ovations. It was a tribute and a show of appreciation for what this group has done for the Naugy basketball program.
Kuczenski has been Naugy’s force in the middle and had perhaps his signature performance in a team-high 33-point night in the victory over Wilby. Last Saturday, Kuczenski hit the 1,000-point mark for his career in a 98-74 NVL quarterfinal loss to Crosby, the No. 1 seed in the league tournament and the fourth-ranked team in the state.
But so many others have contributed.
Pernell turned in yet another complete performance against Torrington last week and finished with 16 points, eight boards and seven assists. He hit several big 3-pointers down the stretch in the win over Wilby.
Foote, one of the league’s most versatile players, gives Naugy options all over the floor. His game continues to develop, and will present a challenge for opposing coaches outside of the NVL.
The ‘Hounds have also received steady contributions from Ryne Griesenauer, Jerome Love and Jason Bradley. Players have settled into their roles, and that’s a major reason why head coach Mike Wilson thinks his team started to play up to its potential down the stretch.
Anyone who has watched this team over the last month has seen that it’s not about one player. Wilson has stressed the team-first approach, and Naugy has matured into an unselfish squad and that has led to success.
After a strong finish to the regular season, the Greyhounds have one more chance next week to bring some positive attention to the program. They are seeded No. 18 in the Class L state tournament and will visit No. 15 Middletown (11-9) on Tuesday. A win would likely earn a second-round meeting Thursday with No. 2 Woodstock Academy.
Naugatuck’s last few weeks tell us anything is possible and the state tournament presents one last opportunity to show what the ‘Hounds can do.