Naugatuck hits rough patch

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BEACON FALLS — A rough patch of the season for the Naugatuck boys basketball team continued Tuesday — in more ways than one.

The Greyhounds suffered their fourth loss in their last five games Tuesday in a 47-41 defeat to Woodland. They had to play that contest without their best player, Jean Lukau, who suffered a shoulder injury during pregame warmups.

“He popped his shoulder out before the game,” Naugatuck coach Mike Wilson said. “He’s got a bad shoulder, unfortunately. We’ve been lucky that he hasn’t had that injury in a while, but it’s part of the game.”

Without Lukau, who is one of the best perimeter players in the Naugatuck Valley League, the ‘Hounds struggled to find an explosive scoring force. Derrick Jagello netted a team-high 15 points, but he was the only Naugatuck player to reach double figures. Keywan Garris added eight points for Naugy (9-6), which scored just 14 points after entering halftime with a 27-22 advantage.

“It’s tough, especially with a kid who scores the ball so much for us,” Wilson said. “It just makes us understand our roles and shows us how on any given night we need someone to step up and make plays.”

Wilson gave credit to Woodland, which rebounded from a 30-point defeat to the Greyhounds last month.

“They played super, first and foremost,” Wilson said. “Coach (Tom) Hunt does a great job with those kids in making them believe and fight. Take nothing away from them. They made basketball plays, and sometimes it’s hard to win on the road.”

The loss continued a negative stretch for Naugatuck. The Greyhounds started the season with an impressive 8-2 mark, but they faltered with a 74-62 loss to Derby on Jan. 26. Next came a loss to juggernaut Sacred Heart on Jan. 30, but Naugy rebounded with a 55-53 win over Ansonia last Friday.

The following day, however, the ‘Hounds suffered a 61-37 setback against Simsbury in a game that made Wilson upset with his team’s effort. Despite Tuesday’s loss without Lukau, Wilson said Naugy’s showing against the Hawks was a step back in the right direction.

“We’re just going through a little adversity right now,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to find out who we are. We’re not wavering. We’re going to make sure we do things the right way and hold our standards high. I can live with losses. This loss burns, but it doesn’t burn as much as the Simsbury loss the other day. We had (bad) attitudes and weren’t playing hard at times. I said (after Tuesday’s game), ‘Boys, I can live with losses. We lost this game. They beat us, but I can live with the way our attitude was and the way we stayed together.’ That was a big test for us.”

Naugatuck will try to claw back into the win column Friday with a key Naugatuck Valley League Iron Division contest against Torrington at home. Naugy will also start next week with two more divisional clashes, Monday at Watertown and Wednesday against Wolcott.