NAUGATUCK — Nolan Kinne scored a game-high 17 points—all in the second half—to lead the Greyhounds to their first win of the season in a 52-41 victory over Derby Monday night.
Brandon Kuczenski added 11 points for the Greyhounds, who turned a six-point halftime deficit into an 11-point victory. With the win, Naugy head coach Mike Wilson earned his first victory as a high school varsity head coach.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders,” Wilson said. “But, in the same breath, I’ve been telling the boys it’s not about winning and losing for us this year. It’s really about building, life lessons, and getting better every time we touch the court.”
Kinne had nine points in the final period, including a go-ahead layup with 3:39 left to give Naugy a 41-39 edge. The Greyhounds didn’t trail the rest of the way.
In the last minute, Kinne made seven of eight free throws to put the game away. It was a unique chance for a Naugy player to seal a victory.
“It felt so much better,” said Kinne, describing the opportunity to go to the line with the lead late in a game. “There’s a little pressure, but you just cope with it and finish the game.”
The Greyhounds trailed, 33-29, early in the fourth quarter but fought back. The comeback started with crisp passing and long-range shooting.
Naugy went on an 8-2 run capped by a Mick Pernell three-pointer to give Naugy a 37-35 lead with 5:30 left in the game.
Despite being a winless team, Naugatuck played like a seasoned, confident team late in the game. The Greyhounds finished the contest on a 14-6 run and made nine of 10 free throws in the final 1:05 to close out the contest.
“We showed some maturity tonight,” Wilson said. “Instead of going into the hole and putting our heads down and not making the best of a situation, we kept our heads up and fought out of the situation. I was really proud of them tonight.”
Ray Kreiger scored a team-high 11 points for Derby, which fell to 0-7 on the season.
Derby center Tim Adanti capped an 11-0 run to start the second quarter after grabbing an offensive rebound and hitting a baseline jumper. During the stretch, the Red Raiders took the Naugy offense out of its rhythm and created good looks at the hoop.
In the second half, the Greyhounds changed their defensive approach. It worked.
“Once they went zone, they took us out of our rhythm and we forced some shots,” Derby coach David Scrivines said. “Between the shot selection and the turnovers, that was the game for us.”
While Naugy wanted to enjoy the victory, there are still more games ahead. Kinne said he understood the importance of the victory and that the team has to build on it.
“It’s important, but we have another game and we’re not just settling on this,” Kinne said. “We want more.”
The momentum the Greyhounds gained with their first win didn’t carry over to Tuesday as Naugy fell to Torrington, 59-45. The Hounds are now 1-7 and host Sacred Heart (1-8) Friday at 7 p.m.