NAUGATUCK — Midway through the second quarter Friday night, Tyler Conklin drove to the hoop, drew contact and converted a layup. The Naugy guard’s three-point play did little to impact the outcome of an 82-52 loss to Crosby, but it showed the subtle development of an inexperienced team.
Call it the silver lining or consider it the glass-half-full approach. Either way, head coach Kevin Wesche sees it as progress, however small it might seem.
“We certainly want to win every game,” Wesche said. “But, I’m also looking for progress.”
Despite the final score, the Greyhounds did improve. Coming off a 26-point scoring output two days earlier against Watertown, Naugatuck improved its offensive attack against Crosby.
Wesche broke Friday’s game down by quarters: In spurts, the Greyhounds were competitive against the favored Bulldogs.
“We wanted to avoid a run-and-gun situation,” said Wesche, whose team was outscored by four points in both the second and third quarters. “We tried to stick to the game plan.”
Crosby’s B.J. Kline had other ideas. The guard dropped game-high 22 points, including six treys, to help his head coach, Nick Augelli, win his 500th career game.
Two bright spots emerged from the loss for Naugy. Warren Buerkle, who scored a team-high 14 points, and Conklin, who added nine, did their part.
Both players moved without the ball and capitalized off picks. It didn’t go unnoticed by the coaches.
“Players were coming off screens set and scoring,” Wesche said. “But, it was a team effort. There was ball movement and players moving.”
The coach took notice of Conklin’s effort. The guard provided a lift to his teammates against one of the best teams in the Naugatuck Valley League.
“Tyler made some nice drives to the hoop,” Wesche said. “He showed some of the talent he has in his game. That has to give him confidence in his abilities to go out and play.”
Naugy center Matt Zahornasky also had a strong game. He gave his team some quality minutes in the low post against bigger opponents.
“Matt did a pretty good job,” Wesche said. “I was pleased with his effort. He took a huge step forward on Friday.”
In addition, DaShawn Wingate and Dennis Spanhaak also contributed some quality minutes for the Greyhounds. Despite the small wins and positive outlook, Naugatuck is still off to an 0-2 start.
Wesche saw two notable areas for improvement: weak-side rebounding and denial of penetration at the top of the key.
“We didn’t execute as well as I wanted to,” Wesche said.
The Greyhounds will work on those areas and others to prepare for a holiday stretch of games that includes Holy Cross, Wilby and Woodland.