NAUGATUCK — After their second meeting with the Crosby Bulldogs on Tuesday, the Greyhounds boys basketball team once again found themselves on the losing end of an intensely physical and mentally demanding game, 72-55.
Naugatuck first-year coach Mike Wilson was understandably unhappy with the outcome, especially the second time around.
“Disappointing is a tough word,” Wilson said. “I think ‘frustrating’ is more accurate. I think the fact is that we didn’t learn from our mistakes the first time we played Crosby. Last time we competed, but they got us by about the same margin.”
The Crosby defense managed to keep constant pressure on Naugatuck, at times doubling and tripling the ball-handler, making it extremely difficult for the Naugatuck offense to find its beat early in the game.
This, coupled with simple mistakes, a fair share of missed opportunities at the hoop, and the occasional sloppy handling of the ball left Naugatuck down 14 points by the half, 34-20.
“Our turnovers have been our Achilles heel all year long and when teams really press us and get after us that shows we’re a little young,” Wilson said.
The game did, however, begin on an optimistic note for Naugatuck. A deep 3-pointer by Nolan Kinne had Naugy right back in the game after Crosby took an early four-point lead, and Naugy’s Brandon Kuczenski continuously put back rebounds for more points. Crosby only started to run away by the end of the first period, scoring six unanswered points.
The second half, too, began well for Naugatuck with its ability to match Crosby regarding defensive pressure. But, this ability was quick to falter, as Crosby began to roll along, scoring seven more unanswered points.
Naugy, on the offensive side, began to show its inability to finish. It seemed as though the team had no problem getting the ball down the court, but its hesitancy to take shots when the pressure was minimal, as well as maybe taking too many shots at inopportune times, kept Naugy from putting points on the board.
Of course, Tuesday’s loss can by no means be summarized only by what Naugatuck was incapable of doing, as the Crosby team rightly deserves credit for both the intensity and finesse with which they played.
Crosby managed to get more players involved early in the game—the Bulldogs had twice the number of players in the scoring column (six to Naugatuck’s three) in the first period.
Crosby’s Marvin Hampton scored a game-high 24 points, with both T.J. Pierce and Tyshon Rogers also making strong showings. On the Naugatuck side, Brandon Kuczenski led his team in scoring with 19 points, followed by Nolan Kinne with 14 points.
It’s back to the drawing board for Naugatuck and Wilson hopes to finally be able to get his team back in the gym for some practice, which hasn’t been the norm recently.
“Hopefully we can get our rhythm back and get some practice in if we can get to school this week,” Wilson said. “That’s going to help us out a lot. We haven’t really gotten into the gym since Martin Luther King Day because of the weather.”
Despite only having one win thus far, Wilson is pleased with his team’s effort throughout the season.
“I just love the heart,” Wilson said. “I love these guys’ heart, they compete and stay positive, they don’t complain. They’re good guys. We’re going to have to continue our hard work.”
The Hounds have another tough test Friday when they host league-leading Holy Cross at 7 p.m.