NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys basketball team opened the season with a rather unfavorable schedule, which led to a 2-4 start.
The losses came against perennial powerhouse Sacred Heart (7-1), Torrington (4-2), which received some top 10 votes before a loss to Crosby, Hartford Public (5-2), which is ninth in the state Division II rankings, and East Lyme (5-1), which is fourth in the state Division III rankings, the same division as Naugy.
Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson doesn’t see the tough start as a detriment, however, rather he feels his team now has a better understanding of itself after playing against some of the best teams in the state and Naugatuck Valley League.
“We’ve been saying since the beginning of this year that we did not want any false hope heading into the season,” Wilson said. “We got our feet in good foundation right now and we’re not thinking that we’re better than what we are.”
Now that the rough patch has ceded, the Greyhounds will look to get rolling and started off on the right foot last Wednesday night with a 63-47 win over Wilby (1-3).
Naugy outscored Wilby by 16 in the second quarter to go up 34-16 at the half. Even though Wilby showed a little spark in the fourth, Naugy’s lead was never in question. Jean Lukau led the Greyhounds with 17 points, followed by Gwayne Fisher with 15.
The Greyhounds won two games in a row for the first time this season with a 80-45 win over Watertown last Friday to even their record at 4-4 on the year.
Lukau led all scorers with 23 points for the Greyhounds. Naugatuck’s Avery Hennet tallied a double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds.
Before the back-to-back wins, Naugy dropped two games in a holiday tournament at New Britain High School at the end of December.
In a 68-52 loss to East Lyme on Dec. 27, Lukau scored 21, and Ese Onakpoma finished with nine.
“East Lyme is one of the best teams in our division this year, and I thought we played them well,” Wilson said. “We lost by 16, but the game felt closer than that.”
Two days later, Naugatuck fell to Hartford Public by a narrow 68-65 margin.
Down 16 heading into the fourth, Naugy exploded for 27 points in the quarter but it wasn’t enough. Derrick Jagello was the leading scorer for Naugy with 13 points, and Fisher added eight.
The Greyhounds can put these games behind them now and focus on taking down their NVL foes. Naugatuck will visit St. Paul on Tuesday before games against Wolcott on Friday and Ansonia and Seymour next week.
The Greyhounds did receive some bad news in the win against Wilby as guard Robert Sanders exited the game with a leg injury. If Sanders has to miss some time, Wilson said it would be a big loss to the team and he would look to his younger players to fill in the void.
“We already lost one point guard this year, so we got our fingers crossed,” Wilson said after the Wilby game. “We got some dogs on this team, though. (Freshman) Avery Hennet has loads of potential and he works hard. Ese has been coming along. I don’t even remember the last time we have had two freshmen in the rotation that have contributed as much as they have.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated from the version published in the Jan. 10 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on games played after press time.