Kennedy pulls away from Naugatuck late

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WATERBURY — Naugatuck opened the season on Tuesday with a difficult task, travel to Kennedy High to take on the Eagles.

The Greyhounds hung around for three quarters before a late surge sealed the deal for Kennedy.  The Eagles outscored the Greyhounds 24-11 in the fourth quarter and ultimately took the victory, 63-39.

The Greyhounds (0-1) shot just 3-of-9 in the fourth quarter and struggled offensively on the night with 14 turnovers.

Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson said he saw some good things from his offense, but added there is still a lot of work to do.

“Our offense was OK,” Wilson said. “I was satisfied in the sense that everyone stayed in the system and nobody was trying play hero ball. But we have a lot of work to do in terms of understanding our motions and playing unselfish.”

Shane Swierbitowicz led Naugatuck with 10 points and six rebounds. Elijah Robinson dropped seven points and three assists, and Mike Plasky added nine points off the bench.

Naugatuck is a smaller team this year than in years past. The larger Eagles controlled the glass, which allowed for second-chance opportunities. Naugatuck managed to get 19 rebounds in the game.

Wilson said the team has to learn to fight and apply defensive pressure against bigger opponents.

“All we can do is try our best to scratch and claw and apply defensive pressure. That is all you can ask for,” Wilson said.

That is exactly what the Greyhounds were able to do for the first three quarters.

Despite scoring just 30 points through three quarters, the Greyhounds only found themselves down by 11 entering the fourth. Kennedy pulled away with an 8-0 run midway through the final quarter to lock up the opening-night win.

“Basketball is such a game of runs,” Wilson said. “It is tough in that fourth quarter to come back when you are down by 16. We were scratching and clawing all game just to get to that point.  You go downhill so many times then you go uphill.”

Naugatuck will host Wilby on Thursday and visit Holy Cross on Dec. 27.