FARMINGTON — Fans spilled out into the hallway outside the gymnasium at Farmington High School March 11 as Naugatuck and Farmington faced off for the chance to advance to the Division III boys tournament semifinals.
The throng of Naugatuck fans that made the 30-mile journey sat shoulder to shoulder in the stands offering support for their boys in Garnet and Grey, but it wasn’t meant to be for the Greyhounds. Shot after shot found the iron but rolled around the rim and out on most occasions, as No. 3 Farmington ran away with a 76-55 win over the No. 6-seeded Greyhounds.
“It was a great season,” Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson said. “The boys bought into what we have been promoting, that no one is bigger than the team and when you play the game the right way good things happen.”
“We ran into a real good Farmington team who will probably go on and win it all,” Wilson added. “Ese (Onakpoma) and Avery (Hinnant) were playing eighth-grade basketball last year and there they were starting for us in the quarterfinals.”
Naugatuck (16-7) battled in the opening quarter and trailed 14-11 after John Lukau hit a jumper at the buzzer to end the quarter.
Farmington (21-4) took a 36-20 lead into halftime and expanded the lead to 56-32 going into the final quarter.
“That’s the game of basketball,” Wilson said. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way. We were taking our shots, but they just weren’t dropping.”
Derrick Jagello led Naugatuck with 16 points. Andrew Robertson had nine points, Lukau added eight points, and Gawayne Fisher and Hinnant had seven points each.
“We have to stick together as a team and get ready for next year,” Jagello told the Republican-American. “I’m just glad to be a Greyhound.”
The Greyhounds, who finished the regular season strong with a 10-game winning streak, will lose a bulk of their scoring with seniors Lukau (394 points), Fisher (126 points) and Robertson (128 points) graduating.
“It might sound bad, but losing this game is my standout memory for three years at Naugatuck,” Lukau told the Republican-American after the loss to Farmington. “It’s because we got this far. When I got here as a sophomore, we always got out in the first round. So just coming in here and playing around this crowd is the best.”
Wilson had a solid group of players returning, including Jagello (195 points), Hinnant (177 points), Onakpoma (152 points), Keywan Garris (87 points) and Robert Sanders (63 points).
“We talk about once you put on that uniform you are a family,” Wilson said. “Our seniors really set the example for these younger guys. We win ten in a row at one point and we need to build off of that.”