‘Hounds finding comfort level

Naugatuck’s Shane Swierbitowitz (32) shoots over St. Paul’s Chadd Richardson (20) and Benjamin Mazzone (3) Jan. 15 in Naugatuck. St. Paul won the game, 60-54. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck’s Shane Swierbitowitz (32) shoots over St. Paul’s Chadd Richardson (20) and Benjamin Mazzone (3) Jan. 15 in Naugatuck. St. Paul won the game, 60-54. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — The game was not a must-win for the Naugatuck boys basketball team last Friday night versus St. Paul. However, a win would have been very helpful for coach Mike Wilson’s squad.

A win would have brought the Greyhounds to a 4-3 record with Kennedy and Sacred Heart on the horizon.

The Greyhounds could not hold on to the lead they held at the beginning of the fourth quarter and fell to St. Paul, 60-54. While his players could not finish the game, Wilson supported the effort that they gave and was not afraid to say the officials made an impact on the way his team played.

“I felt like the referees had a big impact and I never say things like that,” Wilson said. “We scrapped and we fought but the referees took the game over.”

There was a lot negative reactions to the officials in last Friday’s game by both the St. Paul side and the Naugatuck side. Some foul calls made in the middle of the fourth quarter, Wilson said, “rattled” his players and changed the way his team played on both sides of the ball for the remainder of the game.

When Naugy committed fouls, St. Paul capitalized, going 18-for-23 from the free throw line, ten more attempts than the Greyhounds. The Falcons missed only one of those free throws in the last two minutes to close out the win.

While the loss was taken hard by Wilson, he saw improvement in the Greyhounds’ offense. The points scored by the Greyhounds were more evenly distributed among the eight players who played, as opposed to the early in the season when Fejiro Onakpoma and James Mesidor were heavily relied on for scoring.

Onakpoma did lead the Greyhounds again with 12 points to go with 16 rebounds, but he was followed by Steve Marinaro with nine points on 3-of-6 from three-point range, Mesidor with eight, Andre Trosan with eight and Mike Plasky with seven.

Naugatuck’s Fejiro Onakpoma (35) drives the baseline past St. Paul’s Austin Jones (2) and Chadd Richardson (20) Jan. 15 in Naugatuck. St. Paul won the game, 60-54. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck’s Fejiro Onakpoma (35) drives the baseline past St. Paul’s Austin Jones (2) and Chadd Richardson (20) Jan. 15 in Naugatuck. St. Paul won the game, 60-54. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“More guys are getting comfortable within the system and how we are trying to do things,” Wilson said. “These guys were relying on Fejiro early but now they are starting to step it up a little bit.”

Antoine Sistrunk also made more of an impact last Friday, scoring seven points and adding seven assists. Sistrunk took eight shots and Wilson says he liked to see Sistrunk shoot a little bit more.

“We talked to Antoine about being more aggressive and making teams be more honest,” Wilson said. “For a while, he was almost never shooting the ball but now we are seeing him become a factor.”

Instead of going into a tough week with a winning record, the Greyhounds entered the Kennedy game Tuesday night at 3-4.

“We’re going in to these games next week with our heads up, hoping to get two Ws,” said Wilson following the St. Paul game. “We’re not going in there to just bow down to anyone.  This presents an opportunity.”

The Greyhounds didn’t bow down to Kennedy (8-1) on Tuesday as they trailed 17-16 after the first quarter. But the Eagles pulled away in the second and third quarters to earn a 61-49 win and drop the Greyhounds to 3-5 on the season.

Onakpoma and Mesidor led the Greyhounds with 19 and 17 points, respectively, versus the Eagles.

Naugatuck will hit the road to face Sacred Heart Friday night and Torrington next Monday, before returning home to host Bassick Jan. 28.