NVL run ends in semis

0
79

Greyhounds turn focus to states

Naugatuck's James Mesidor (42) goes up to defend the shot from Crosby's Jordan Booker during the NVL boys basketball semifinals in Waterbury on Monday night. The Bulldogs defeated the Greyhounds, 80-65. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Naugatuck’s James Mesidor (42) goes up to defend the shot from Crosby’s Jordan Booker during the NVL boys basketball semifinals in Waterbury on Monday night. The Bulldogs defeated the Greyhounds, 80-65. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

WATERBURY — The Naugatuck Greyhounds came into Monday night hotter than a pistol. They had won ten straight NVL games, including a win in the first round of the NVL tournament on Saturday against St. Paul.

The No. 2 Greyhounds — the highest seed they’ve been in the tourney under coach Mike Wilson — faced a rematch in the semifinals Monday against No. 3 Crosby at Wilby High School. Naugy beat Crosby earlier this season in the teams’ only regular season meeting and knocked the Bulldogs out of the top ten of the state rankings in the process.

The Crosby team Monday night was clearly not the same one that the ‘Hounds faced back in December.

Crosby knocked off Naugy, 80-65, Monday behind a third-quarter surge to end the Greyhounds’ run for a league title.

Crosby led Naugy 19-10 after the first, and it looked like the Greyhounds were letting it slip away from them early. On top of the deficit, Chapman, Naugy’s leading scorer, picked up two quick fouls and was forced to sit for much of the remainder of the first half.

Chapman, however, knew that his team would respond without him on the court.
“I have faith in my team,” Chapman said. “With or without me, it is my team. They could do good without me.”

Naugy proved Chapman right in the second quarter. The Greyhounds started out the quarter on a 15-6 run and led 29-28 at halftime. It was a sloppy first half marred by turnovers by both teams.

In the third quarter, the tide turned.

Crosby exploded on a 25-7 run in the final seven minutes of the quarter and took a 56-38 lead into the fourth.

Tyairus Sands ignited the explosion for Crosby. Sands scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, including 3 threes in the third quarter alone.

“You gotta tip your hat to that kid,” Wilson said of Sands. “I do not think he has shot like that all year, but the kid made shots and the kid made plays.”

As if things couldn’t get worse for Naugy, Chapman committed his third foul in the third quarter so Wilson was once again forced to take him out.

Chapman re-entered in the fourth and did most of his damage after he came in. He finished with 25 points and Dayvon Russell added 21, but it wasn’t enough to stave off the Bulldogs.

Crosby wouldn’t be stopped Monday night. Forward Zarvon Love was a big part of the fourth quarter, attacking the offensive glass and cleaning up on any missed shots. Love finished with 18 points while the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, Jordan Booker, finished with 15.

Wilson said his team got away from its offense in the fourth quarter.

“We started forcing it a little bit,” Wilson said. “I think their run sort of got to us and we tried to make plays that were not a part of our offense. Basketball is a game of runs and we just could not shake that run off.”

On Saturday, Naugy earned a 59-56 win over St. Paul to advance to the semifinals. Chapman and Russell paced the Greyhounds’ offense with 20 and 16 respectively against the Falcons.

Wilson said Monday’s loss will help fuel a run in the state tournament for the Greyhounds, who are coming off their best regular season in some time. He promises that his team will now be that much hungrier for a state championship trophy.

“This gets us itching that much more,” said Wilson about a state championship.

No. 7 Naugy will host No. 26 Harding at 7 p.m. March 10 in the first round of the Class L state tournament to start off what the Greyhounds hope will be their road to Mohegan Sun.

The full Class L bracket is available here.