NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys were hoping to ride the momentum of a three-game winning streak into the Naugatuck Valley League tournament, but a quick start in the quarterfinals vanished as No. 3 Waterbury Career knocked off the No. 6-seeded Greyhounds, 85-74, Saturday at Wilby High School in Waterbury.
Naugatuck (12-8) took a 5-0 lead to start of the game but trailed 25-15 going into the second quarter. The Spartans (15-7) continued to push the issue and extended the lead to 51-31 at the half.
The Greyhounds outscored Career 43-34 in the second half, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
Jean Lukau, who was named to the All-NVL team, led the ‘Hounds with 30 points. Latrel Deveaux and Jesse Lanci made their presence felt with 13 and 12 points respectively.
Elijah Robinson, who was named to the All-Iron Division team, finished with seven points. Jaden Bennett added six points and Derrick Jagello had five points.
“We just ran into a buzz saw,” Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson said. “They (WCA) can shoot the ball, and a couple of times they threw up 30-footers that banked off the backboard. It’s hard to defend that kind of shooting.
“I told the guys I was proud of them after the game. They fought hard in the second half and got back into the game after trailing by 20 most of the way. There was no bickering or complaining. They just worked hard and kept fighting.”
The Greyhounds like to use their defense to stay in games. Naugatuck is 11-1 in the 12 games this season they’ve have held opponents in the 50s or less. Career was held in the 50s just once this season, and that was by Sacred Heart.
“It was a double-edged sword,” Wilson said. “We got killed on the glass as they just kept shooting until they made it, unfortunately, and then they were hitting threes (12 in all).”
Naugatuck earned a 50-45 win over Oxford last Friday to finish up the regular season. Deveaux led the way with 19 points.
The Greyhounds will now head into the Division II state tournament.
“I feel we are ready to go into the states,” Wilson said. “We kind of hit our stride a little bit. We finished the regular season with three straight wins and held the opponent in the 50s all three games, and that’s what we want.”
“A lot of our test this year has been keeping our mental composure when things don’t go our way,” Wilson added. “I’ve been preaching to the guys all year about doing the little things and competing every time you stepped out onto the court.”
No. 17 Naugatuck will play at No. 16 Stamford on Tuesday. The winner plays at No. 1 Simsbury on Thursday.
“We are prepared to fight and claw against whoever we meet in the states,” Wilson said. “We are ready to compete. Playing in the NVL prepares you for that.”