NAUGATUCK — The merger last year of Hillside and City Hill middle schools produced a perfect season for the City Hill boys basketball team.
The boys finished last year with a 13-0 record and for the first time in eight years a non-city school won the Greater Waterbury Championship. That perfect beginning led to the makings of the perfect storm.
“We graduated our entire team,” City Hill boys coach Ron Plasky said. “It was a little more than a rebuilding project. We came into the season with no returning players and really no expectations. I told them early on that we would not measure the success of this season by wins and losses.
“As it turned out, this was probably the best season I ever had as a coach. We lost our first game by 50 points and by seasons end we finished strong at 7-7 on the year,” he said.
The taste of victory didn’t come for the Cyclones until the third game of the season when a core of players emerged in a 56-49 win over Seymour. Aaron Manouse led the way with 11 points.
Antoine Sistrunk, David Roskosky, and Corey Plasky all chipped in with 10 points each and Jose Guardiano added eight points for City Hill.
Eighth-graders Patrick Hughes, Anthony Trueheart, and Jose Velazquez began to help out the Cyclones’ effort early on as City Hill evened its record at 2-2 on the season.
“We hit a little rough patch,” Plasky said. “We had an academic suspension, illness and a key injury that slowed our progress down.”
Velazquez, the 6-foot-2-inch eighth-grader broke his wrist and missed half the season.
“That really hurt us under the basket,” Plasky said. “But we did have some seventh-graders who stepped up and filled the voids. There were a handful of games that we lost in the final minute. If we had our full squad we probably could have finished the season at 10-4.”
Tyler Deitelbaum was one of the seventh-graders who stepped up and was a key contributor on defense. Steve Marinaro began to assert himself on the boards and Tyler Waters delivered a game-tying shot against Long River before the Cyclones lost at the buzzer.
Seventh-graders Dillon Conway, Guy Curtis, Alijah Garris, and Joel Guzman began to settle into their roles and City Hill followed a three-game skid with a four-game winning streak.
“We learned and we started to become more competitive,” Plasky said. “It’s a credit to the kids. They continued to work real hard and they never gave up.”
Corey Plasky ran the point steering the offense and became a go-to guy hitting some big 3-pointers down the stretch. Roskosky became a solid player scoring a season-high 23 points including an amazing five 3-pointers in game against Swift with four coming in the final period.
Sistrunk began to take over the leadership role as he led the team on the four-game winning streak scoring 18 points per game. Manouse scored a season-high 15 points and Guardiano added a season-high 16 points during the win streak.
“The whole key to the season was to get better with each game,” Plasky said, “and to become a better team than when we started. In that respect I feel we achieved our goal and had a very successful season.”
Sistrunk was awarded the most outstanding player for leading the team in scoring. Roskosky earned the coach’s unsung hero award for scoring in double figures six times during the season.
Marinaro was awarded with the most improved honor. Deitelbaum earned the most outstanding defender and hustle award. Corey Plasky was the rookie of the year and had the highest free throw percentage on the team.
Coach Plasky also recognized the contributions of team managers Alexis Paul, Ariana Alvarado, and Ciara Stella.