NAUGATUCK — During the last two seasons, the Naugatuck boys faltered down the stretch and came up short in numerous games. On Monday, the ‘Hounds showed some mettle and held on for a different result.
Naugy overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to defeat Sacred Heart in overtime, 68-63, in an exciting, up-and-down game that had the crowd buzzing throughout.
It wasn’t pretty, but the ‘Hounds came away with a W.
“As much as it wasn’t what we wanted, we came away with a win,” Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson said. “This is something we haven’t been used to. There’s been a lot of games over the last two years where we played really well, but couldn’t get over that hump.”
Husani Foote scored 22 points, including eight during a feverish third-quarter run, to lead the Greyhounds to a 3-0 start on the season. Gabe Pulliam added 15, while Brandon Kuczenski had 12 for Naugy.
The game culminated with a wild finish. Down 63-61, Sacred Heart’s David Whitney pulled down two straight offensive rebounds and drew a shooting foul with 23.7 seconds left in overtime. Moments later, Whitney was called for a technical foul.
Whitney drained both of his free throws to tie the game at 63. Mick Pernell hit one of two on the technical shots to give the ‘Hounds a one-point lead.
The Hearts fouled Pulliam with 12.7 seconds left to stop the clock. Pulliam made the first free throw of a one-and-one but missed the second.
Then, the Naugy defense stepped up for one final stand. Isiah Roscoe attempted to dribble through multiple Greyhound defenders at mid-court and was called for traveling.
Defense seemed to be the difference in the second half and extra session.
“We just came out and played harder on defense,” Foote said.
Naugy inbounded the ball one final time and Pulliam sunk a half-court shot at the buzzer to seal the victory.
“Last year we lost a lot of games because of little mistakes,” Foote said. “This year we’re trying to capitalize on other’s mistakes.”
The Hearts trailed early, then went on a spurt thanks to big man Maliek Petteway, who put up 11 points in the first quarter to give Sacred Heart a 20-15 lead. Petteway finished with a team-high 17.
Sacred Heart scored the first two buckets of the second half and pushed the lead to 41-29. Wilson called a timeout and Naugy turned the game around.
“Everyone stuck together and no one put their heads down, and kept picking each other,” Wilson said.
Kuczenski capped a 16-2 run and took a pass from Pernell on the baseline for a layup to give Naugy a 45-43 lead with 55 seconds left in the third. Kuczenski had eight points during the run.
Wilson said he was pleased with the win and the comeback, but noted the ‘Hounds have more work to do.
“I don’t think we played up to our full capabilities and we have a lot of improving to do,” Wilson said.
The Greyhounds (3-1) faltered in a nonconference meeting with Northwest Catholic on Tuesday night, losing 59-29. Pulliam was the only scorer in double figures with 10 points, and Naugy scored single digits in three of four quarters.
Naugatuck visits Kennedy on Friday and plays its last game of the calendar year Dec. 27 at Wilby.