WATERBURY — After two straight losses to start the season, Naugatuck boys basketball head coach Mike Wilson wanted a complete-game effort from his team on Tuesday night. He got it.
The Greyhounds defeated Sacred Heart, 65-38, to post their first win of the young season and improve to 1-2. The Greyhounds’ first win came in non-dramatic fashion as they dominated practically from the opening tip.
“We played 32 minutes and worked together tonight,” Wilson said. “It was a team effort from start to finish.”
Mick Pernell finished with a game-high 22 points for the Greyhounds, while Brandon Kuczenski had 15 and Hasani Foote added 14.
Naugy played inspired basketball. Extra passes led to layups, executed offense provided open jumpers, and stingy defense created turnovers.
The night started with a hustle play for Naugy. Kuczenski put back a miss just 30 seconds into the game to begin a 9-0 run to start the contest. It was merely a sign of things to come for the ‘Hounds.
Foote capped the spurt with an emphatic dunk following a Nolan Kinne steal—setting the tone for a 17-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
It was a different atmosphere from Naugy’s first two games—a lopsided loss to Wolcott and come-from-ahead defeat to Holy Cross. The difference?
“We didn’t play together as a team in the first two games,” Naugy guard Gabe Pulliam said. “We put it all together tonight.”
The second quarter was more of the same display from the first.
Pernell answered a Sacred Heart bucket with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to increase the lead to 24-8 with 5:35 left in the quarter. Naugy scored six straight over the next minute, capped by Pernell’s strong drive that set up a Kuczenski layup to give Naugy a 30-8 lead.
Evan DeVico, who led the Hearts with 16 points, followed with a layup. Pernell responded with a 3 to give Naugy its biggest lead of the half at 33-10.
In the third, Naugy’s big men became more involved. Pernell and Pulliam made sure of it.
Foote scored eight points in the quarter off assists from both Pernell and Pulliam. Kuczenski had four points and also benefited from nifty passes.
The Greyhounds led 54-31 after three quarters and never gave up control.
Wilson said he was pleased with the win, but admits that there’s still room for improvement. After all, the Naugatuck Valley League season is just beginning and the Greyhounds compete in the Copper Division with the five Waterbury schools and Torrington, meaning there really are no easy games.
“It’s gonna be a war every night in this league,” Wilson said.
Naugy hosts Kennedy Friday night before hosting Wilby on Tuesday evening.