WATERBURY — After starting the basketball season with three straight wins, the Naugatuck boys have lost three in a row.
In their most recent contest on Dec. 27, the Greyhounds lost to Wilby 81-73 at the Reggie O’Brien Gymnasium. The Wildcats showcased their explosive offense and the ‘Hounds didn’t have an answer.
Mick Pernell scored a team-high 23 for Naugy (3-3), while Brandon Kuczenski added 19.
The Wilby explosion came in the third quarter, when the Wildcats outscored Naugy 31-9 and hit seven 3-pointers. Wilby’s Walter Wright, one of the top players in the Naugatuck Valley League, scored a game-high 34.
“They’re such an explosive team that if you give them an inch, they take a mile and they can really shoot the ball,” Naugy head coach Mike Wilson said of Wilby.
Denzel Mitchell drained 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in a 40-second span to give Wilby a 42-35 lead with 6:25 to go in the period. After the teams traded hoops, Mitchell forced a turnover and made a layup to push the lead to nine.
Wright scored two straight buckets to increase Wilby’s advantage to 50-37, then the Wildcats went unconscious from long range. Taifa Wright started the attack with a trey at the 3:30 mark to make it 53-37.
“They hit some tough shots and got real hot,” Naugy’s Gabe Pulliam said. “You try to adjust and put your hands up, and they were still knocking them down.”
After Naugatuck converted on three of four free throws on separate trips, Wilby hit four 3s in just under two minutes. Mitchell hit the first before Taifa Wright made three straight to complete a lightning-quick 12-0 run and give Wilby a 65-40 lead.
“I thought we gave ourselves an opportunity in the first half because we had six eyes focusing on [Walter] Wright,” Wilson said. “In the second half I think we started to space our defense out and they spread us around and made some shots.”
Wilby’s third-quarter spurt took Naugy out of its game.
“That’s been our biggest problem so far this year,” Wilson said. “When we face a little adversity we start trying to do things that are out of our character.”
Wilson said he was pleased with the Greyhounds’ effort.
“We put together 32 minutes where I thought we played hard, and that was our goal,” Wilson said. “We didn’t come out here to worry about wins and losses; it’s too early in the season. We need to get better every time we get on the court and make gradual improvements.”
Pulliam agreed with his coach and said there are plenty of games left in the season.
“We have a long season ahead of us,” Pulliam said.
Naugatuck will host Crosby on Wednesday before hitting the road for two more. The Greyhounds will visit Torrington on Friday before crossing over to Brass Division play on Tuesday at Seymour.