Hillside hoopsters win Derby league title

NAUGATUCK — The Hillside boys’ basketball team finished the regular season with a 15-1 record, good for second place in the Naugatuck Valley League Middle School Division. Wallace Middle School of Waterbury finished its third straight undefeated campaign, at 16-0, to win the league title, dealing Hillside its only loss of the season.

Eighth-graders Carlos Baez, Rich Brito, Billy Chapman and Jason Diotalevi joined Kevin Mariano, Kyle Plasky, Ricky Plasky, Tyler Posser and Jason Szarzynski to give Hillside a solid core of players who will move on and be the future Naugatuck Greyhounds. Seventh-graders Josh Aviles, Jason Bradley, Dashon Russell, Dayvon Russell and Kyle Pyshna will return next year for head coach Ron Plasky.

A majority of the Hillside team concluded the winter by participating in the Derby Veterans Community Center league. The league is made up mostly of eighth-grade and AAU teams from around the region.

Hillside finished that regular season in third place, with a 10-3 record, then stormed through the playoffs to capture the DVCC championship, led by Plasky and his brother, Rick.

“I started up this Hillside travel team about four or five years ago with Jeff Scanlon,” Ron Plasky said. “The kids that were in fifth grade then are now freshman at Naugatuck High School. It’s a good feeder program, and the competition in the Derby league is very good, made up of AAU teams.

“We used to incorporate City Hill and St. Francis players, but it was just too hard trying to coordinate practice times and places. The idea is to get these kids ready for the next step to play high school ball.”

The travel team is made up of Baez, Brito, Chapman, Diotalevi, Mariano, Kyle and Ricky Plasky, Aviles, Bradley and Russell.

Once the Eagles entered the DVCC playoffs, they were on a mission, rolling past Ansonia, 67-38, in the first round. In the semifinals, Hillside took on East Shore of Milford, a team to which it lost during the regular season. Hillside played one its best games of the year, earning a convincing, 55-29 victory and a spot in the championship game.

There, Hillside met LNV, an AAU team made up of players from the lower Naugatuck Valley. LNV defeated Hillside during the regular season and held an 11-10 lead over the Eagles, after the first period.

But the Eagles outscored LNV 21-8 in the second to take a commanding, 31-19 lead at the half. After the two teams played even, in the third quarter, Hillside put away the contest, erupting for 24 fourth-quarter points to win the championship by a 62-42 margin.

The championship concluded a successful season that produced a 28-4 combined record in the two leagues.

“We really started to peak towards the end of the season,” Ron Plasky said. “We beat some very good eighth-grade and AAU teams. Winning the DVCC championship was certainly a great way to end the season.”