NAUGATUCK — Defense usually leads to offense for the Naugatuck boys basketball team. On Tuesday night, defense also led to a win.
Naugatuck forced costly turnovers, made enough free throws and outlasted Watertown 56-49 in overtime at the Ed Mariano Gymnasium. With the win, Naugatuck improved to 4-2 overall.
“That was our jumpstart,” Naugy head coach Mike Wilson said of his team’s defense. “Good defense gets our offense going.”
Ryne Griesenauer led Naugy with 16 points, while C.J. Wall added 15 for the ‘Hounds.
In overtime, it was defense that proved to be the difference. After Griesenauer drew a foul following an offensive rebound with 2:25 left and hit one of two free throws to give the Greyhounds a 50-49 lead, Naugy turned up its “D.”
After a timeout with 2:22 left, the Greyhounds forced a 5-second violation against the Indians.
Maleek Brooks, who made several big plays in the second half and overtime, stole a pass with 1:06 left and drew a foul. Brooks made one of two free throws to increase Naugy’s lead to 52-49.
“We needed defensive stops and Coach challenged me to go out and make a play,” Brooks said.
On the next Watertown possession, Naugy forced a traveling call to get the ball back. Brooks made two more free throws to increase Naugy’s lead to five.
Naugatuck sealed the win with another steal and layup from Brooks, who scored five of his seven points in the extra session.
Naugy was 5-of-11 from the free throw in overtime.
Watertown (2-3) was led by Nick Mondak, who scored a game-high 17 points.
The ‘Hounds attacked Watertown’s 2-3 zone with several impressive possessions in the fourth quarter, including one trip that Bryan Coney capped with a bucket after 30 seconds of crisp ball movement. Griesenauer hit a layup after a nice pass from Coney on the next possession to give Naugy a 44-41 lead with 5:30 left.
Logan D’Agostino drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 44-44 with 5:08 left, and the game remained at that score for the next 2 ½ minutes. Jason Bradley got a good look at the hoop and hit a 3-ball from the left side of the arc with 2:28 left to break the tie.
Mondak completed a three-point play with 46 seconds left in the fourth to tie the game and ultimately send it to overtime.
Still, Naugatuck put forth a strong effort in extra time to make sure a win didn’t slip away. It was the Greyhounds’ second straight overtime game, following a 58-56 loss to Bassick in nonconference action Dec. 30.
“We would have let a game like this go in the past,” Wilson said. “This win is huge. It’s a building block.”
The ‘Hounds are 4-1 in the Naugatuck Valley League but will be tested over the next week. Naugy will host No. 10-ranked Wilby on Friday night before visiting Woodland on Saturday evening. The Greyhounds will also visit Sacred Heart on Tuesday.