Naugatuck primed for state tournament  

Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson talks to his team during an NVL quarterfinal game against Sacred Heart on Feb. 25 at Wilby High School in Waterbury. Sacred Heart won, 82-43. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys basketball team went into the NVL tournament as the No. 8 seed and faced the monumental task of trying to take down top-seeded and undefeated Sacred Heart in the quarterfinals.

The Greyhounds battled last Saturday with Sacred Heart early on and found themselves down just 10 points, 32-22, at halftime. Naugatuck hung around into the third quarter before Sacred Heart pulled away.

The Hearts outscored Naugatuck 50-21 in the second half to cruise to an 82-43 victory.

Shane Swierbitowicz led the Greyhounds (10-11) with 11 points, while Corey Plasky chipped in nine points on three 3-pointers.

Although Naugy suffered a quick exit from the league tournament, head coach Mike Wilson said playing a powerhouse team like Sacred Heart (22-0) will benefit the Greyhounds as they head into the state tournament.

“To play a team like Sacred Heart is a special opportunity,” Wilson said. “They are a great team.”

The Greyhounds have battled all season long. After starting the season 4-8, they won six of their final eight games to qualify for both the NVL and state tournaments for the first time since 2015.

“I told these guys after the game on Saturday that I am proud of them,” Wilson said. “The beginning of the season was tough. We had a tough schedule, but these boys battled back.”

The Greyhounds will now shift their focus to the Class LL state tournament. Naugatuck is ranked 26th and will face No. 7 Norwich Free Academy (16-4) on the road in first round at 7 p.m. on Monday.

Wilson said his underdog Greyhounds are excited for the challenge to take on the Wildcats, and one player even let him know.

“The boys are pumped,” Wilson said. “Shane Swierbitowicz even texted me after the game on Saturday … telling me he can’t wait for states and he is going all out for his senior year.”