Naugy’s heart beats strong

Naugatuck's Fejiro Onakpoma grabs the rebound Dec. 29 in Naugatuck against Wolcott. Naugatuck won the game, 56-41. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Naugatuck’s Fejiro Onakpoma grabs the rebound Dec. 29 in Naugatuck against Wolcott. Naugatuck won the game, 56-41. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — Early on this season, it’s becoming quite apparent that the Greyhounds’ opponents better be in it for the long haul.

The Naugatuck boys basketball team is showing a penchant for playing until the final horn, regardless of what the scoreboard says.

That never-give-up attitude led the ‘Hounds to their first win of the season Dec. 29 in a come-from-behind 56-41 victory over Wolcott.

Naugatuck fought off a nine-point halftime deficit to the Eagles after Wolcott hung 19 points on the board in the second period. The ‘Hounds allowed Wolcott to score just 13 second half points while the Naugatuck offense took off in a fourth-period blitz. Naugatuck outscored Wolcott by a wide 26-5 margin in the final period to put the game in the win column.

Fejiro Onakpoma, a senior co-captain, scored 26 points to lead the ‘Hounds versus Wolcott.

“The development of Fejiro has been amazing,” head coach Mike Wilson said. “He came in as a freshman never having played organized ball and last year gave us about six points a game. Now, he is the third leading scorer in the league.”

Naugatuck cut deeply into a 14-point deficit to Ansonia in the season-opener with a 25-15 fourth period before falling short, 54-50. But, the warning bell had rung throughout the NVL that when teams play the ‘Hounds they better bring their lunch because it could prove to be a long night on the court.

“Now if I can only get them to play like that for the whole 32 minutes,” Wilson joked.

All kidding aside, Wilson said how the Greyhounds have played in the final quarter speaks to their heart.

“They are clawing and scraping until the final horn and that’s what you want from your team,” he said. “We were chasing 12 to Wolcott and to see them fight their way back into it is a beautiful thing.”

The Greyhounds ran into the buzz saw that is Crosby on Tuesday night and fell, 88-37, to the Bulldogs. Naugatuck was overmatched as Crosby led the whole way.

Onakpoma had a team-high 15 points versus Crosby. The senior leads the team in scoring, but has some help.

Senior co-captain James Mesidor, who added five points in the win over Wolcott, is a force in the paint battling for every possession.

“Mesidor only knows how to play one way — at 100 percent. He’s a warrior with such a positive attitude and the younger guys feed off that,” Wilson said.

Andre Trosan and Caleb Scott are quickly becoming a reliable source of points in a lineup that can go 12 deep. Scott, a sophomore, scored nine in the win over Wolcott as Trosan, a junior, added eight points. Versus Crosby, Scott had two points and Trosan added four.

“I really like our sophomore and junior class,” Wilson said. “They have talent and are developing into solid players.”

The Greyhounds may have lost their entire starting lineup from last year’s team that made a sensational run to the state championship game, but the heart that got them there is still beating strong.

Wilson knows the Greyhounds will need that heart with the tests that lie ahead.

“We are going to have some challenges ahead that’s for sure,” Wilson said. “The city teams are no joke. Crosby is always the team to beat and Wilby just beat Crosby. I don’t think anyone can come close to what Sacred Heart brings to the court.

“Kennedy is strong and Holy Cross can beat anyone on any given night. And if you don’t play four quarters against us, so can we.”

Naugatuck is back on the court Friday at Oxford. The Greyhounds will host Holy Cross Jan. 11 before visiting Seymour two days later.