A tale of two halves

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Wilby runs past Greyhounds

WATERBURY — The Naugatuck boys learned how good they could be in the first half against one of the Naugatuck Valley League’s top teams on Monday night. In the second half, Wilby reminded the Greyhounds of the work left to be done.

The Wildcats used a 22-6 third-quarter run with their signature fast-paced style to overwhelm Naugy, 67-50, and snap a two-game winning streak for the Greyhounds. Naugy stands at 10-8 overall with two games left in the regular season.

Wilby’s Walter Wright, one of the top scorers in the NVL, exploded for 20 second-half points and ignited a several runs that Naugy couldn’t handle. Wright capped an 11-3 spurt during a game-changing three-minute span to open the third that turned a Naugy one-point lead into an eight-point deficit.

“We executed our game plan early,” Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson said. “Then we got impatient and starting running and playing their style.”

Wright finished with a game-high 25 points for Wilby (15-2), which is tied with Crosby for the best record in the league.
Naugy asserted itself early by limiting second-chance opportunities for the Wildcats and executing on offense. Gabe Pulliam ran an efficient offense for the Greyhounds and scored 13 second-quarter points to give Naugy a lead.

Pulliam (23 points) scored seven points in the first 90 seconds with a jumper, a strong take to the glass and a left-arc 3-pointer that gave Naugy a 16-13 edge. Following a Wilby turnover, Naugy’s aggressive play led to more offense.

Mick Pernell missed a contested layup before Husani Foote grabbed the board and missed a follow-up. Finally, Pernell put back his shot to extend the lead to five.

Foote hit a turnaround jumper to give Naugy a 20-13 lead with five minutes left in the second quarter.  Foote finished with 10 points.

After a Wilby basket, Brandon Kuczenski’s bucket off a nice pass from Adam Neveski restored Naugy’s seven-point cushion at 22-15. Kuczenski followed up a 25-point performance in a win over Kennedy last Friday with 12 points against Wilby.

Naugy’s seven-point lead was short-lived, though. The Wildcats finished the quarter on a 10-4 run and trailed, 26-25, at the break.

Despite being outplayed in the second half, Wilson said his guys shouldn’t hang their heads.

“I told the guys this isn’t something to get negative about,” Wilson said. “We have some big games coming up.”

Naugy has two games remaining on its schedule — at home Friday against Crosby and at Torrington on Tuesday. These last two games will help determine Naugy’s seeding in the NVL tournament, which begins Feb. 25 at Wilby.