Overtime with Kyle Brennan

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Kyle Brennan

Round of Applause

Local basketball teams are having strong seasons. The Naugatuck girls clinched their first state tournament berth since 2010 with a 51-38 win over St. Paul on Tuesday as they improved to 8-6 on the season. Lauren Piroscafo and Steph Lima have teamed to form one of the top one-two tandems in the NVL, and their inside-outside combination has benefitted the Greyhounds over the last month. Meanwhile, the Naugy boys sit on the brink of making the postseason for the first time since 2009 after a five-game winning streak. The ‘Hounds have a starting five that spreads the ball around pretty evenly and makes every player a potential scorer. In Beacon Falls, the Woodland boys are closing in on a program-record third-straight state tournament appearance after an overtime win against Kennedy on Tuesday. Ryan Angeloszek has been on fire of late, including a 26-point performance in the win over the Eagles, while Billy Alfiere and Tanner Kingsley continue to provide much-needed scoring. It looks like we’ll have three local teams battling it out in the postseason—no complaints there.

The American League is going to be so good this season. As if AL lineups couldn’t get much better, the Angels added Albert Pujols earlier this offseason before the Tigers attracted Prince Fielder on Tuesday (we won’t get into the huge contract figures because it will make both of us feel bad). The AL has a ton of legitimate contenders — the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Rangers, and Angels — and only four of them can make the playoffs. With the offenses these teams boast, it’s a wonder that every game doesn’t wind up with somebody scoring in double digits. But somehow, AL pitchers always find a way to make good things happen (well, unless you’re wearing red socks in September) so games don’t turn into barnburners. Regardless, it’s going to be a blast in the American League this spring, summer, and fall. As for the National League, it will be much more exciting to watch the plight of the Mets and its laughable ownership situation than most of the NL on-field stuff.

My last semester of college started this week. By this time, you’re thinking: 1) Wow, that went fast; 2) Kyle’s still in school?; or 3) Who cares? I’m probably a mix of the three options. I’m going to end up graduating in three years thanks to the ton of Advanced Placement credits I racked up in high school (it’s worth it, children) and a few summer online classes. Plus, I sort of had a leg up in most of my journalism classes because, well, it’s kind of what I do. Where I’ll wind up after the folks at Quinnipiac fork over my degree, I’m not sure. I’m not great at planning things out for much longer than a week.

Chorus of Boos

The next week or so is going to be absolutely awful. I mean, come on, football gods. Are you serious? Again? I can’t deal with a) seeing Giants and Patriots jerseys worn everywhere, b) seeing them worn by people who don’t know the player on the back of it, c) watching the endless, repetitive coverage and flashbacks on ESPN, and d) hearing from bandwagon fans who keep saying that “we” are going to win the Super Bowl. It’s time to clear up a few things. First, bandwagon fans are the absolute worst, and no sport has more bandwagon fans than football. To make the problem worse, no region has more bandwagon fans than New England and the New York metro area. Put that combination together and it’s worse than Taco Bell and the Boston Marathon. I’m a lover of Facebook and Twitter, but I almost had to exit both on Sunday after the ridiculous things I saw posted about the Patriots and Giants from people who I didn’t even know liked sports. I’m glad (not really) your team did well, but you really ought to stop with the “we’re the best” and “we’re going to win.” No, you’re not. Are you playing in the Super Bowl? Are you employed by either team? Then no, “we’re” not going to win anything. “We’re” going to watch the football game with so much food that “we’re” going to look like Vince Wilfork after downing two of his Big Y Superbirds for lunch. Goodness gracious, stop it.

The State of the Union is so frustrating. I usually like (by like, I mean feel obligated) to watch the speech just so I know what issues I’m supposed to be occasionally paying attention to for the next year. But that thing is the most ridiculous event in government, and that’s saying something. (Having said that, it has been less ridiculous recently now that Nancy Pelosi isn’t positioned behind the president to serve as his personal cheerleader.) The State of the Union is just a popularity contest with President Barack Obama trying to induce as much applause as possible over issues that sound great but ones that will never be resolved. It’s such a pie-in-the-sky hope toward the future, it’s impossible for us average citizens to not tune it out. I’m all for supporting American auto makers (to whoever was booing that remark, I hope your foreign car explodes while you’re inside), and rewarding companies for making their products in the USA, and fixing up the tax code, and all that pretty jazz, but we all know that it’s not going to happen these days. Congress is full of egotistical people who cling too hard to party lines that they probably don’t even understand and who have no idea how to use common sense or compromise. Let’s be honest, the amount of applause they shelled out on Tuesday night is the most work they’ll get done all year.

Word from the Woods

Girls Basketball

The Hawks’ recent losing streak reached five games this week after losses to Holy Cross, Sacred Heart, and Kennedy. Last Wednesday, Woodland lost to the Crusaders, 63-38, before falling to Sacred Heart, 48-43, on Friday in a game that the Hawks led after three quarters. The Black and Gold also succumbed to Kennedy, 55-28, on Tuesday. Sophomore center Andrea Piccolo has been the strong point for the Hawks all season and had a string of solid performances despite the losses. She scored 13 points with 15 rebounds against Holy Cross before pouring in 21 against Sacred Heart and netting 10 points against Kennedy. Carli Mariotti, Shannon Meany, and Nicole Fowler also made impactful scoring contributions over the last week. Woodland (3-11) concludes its stretch against Copper Division opponents on Friday when it hosts Wilby. The Hawks will finish the season with five Brass games, beginning Monday at St. Paul.

Naugy Notes

Girls Basketball

The Naugatuck girls won their eighth game of the season on Tuesday, clinching a return berth to the Class L state tournament for the first time since 2010. The Greyhounds defeated St. Paul, 51-38, on Tuesday in Naugatuck to reach the milestone. Lauren Piroscafo scored 20 points in the game, including 10 in the fourth quarter, while Steph Lima had 12 points (six in the fourth), 10 rebounds, and four blocks. Piroscafo added four steals and two assists while Amber Kuczenski, Amy Dietz, and Ang Piccirillo scored five points each. The state-tournament-clinching win came in Naugy’s second attempt to do so following a 44-38 loss to Watertown last Wednesday. In that game, Piroscafo led the ‘Hounds with 17 points while Lima tacked on seven. The rest of the way, Naugy (8-6) will look to improve its seeding in Class L and work toward earning a strong position in next month’s NVL tournament. The Greyhounds will visit Derby on Friday before hosting four of their last five games, starting with a game against Ansonia on Wednesday.

Lips to CN’s Ear

“My goal is for everybody to get personal bests. If everyone gets their fastest times, it’s a successful season to me. For the team, with the smaller numbers, I’m not stressing that. Our relays should break some school records. That should be fabulous. I think that we should have some individuals—the O’Dells and Eric Dietz—that will be competing for medals.”

Woodland boys swim coach Tom Currier on his goals for the Hawks as they enter the last month of the season. Despite a team lacking in depth, the Hawks have won three of their last five meets thanks to strong, first-place finishes in many events. Those efforts have been led by Pat and Andy O’Dell and Eric Dietz, who Currier projects should contend for medals at the Naugatuck Valley League championships at the beginning of March.

“That has been our goal coming into this season: Trying to make the NVL tournament and get back to states. We have put in a lot of hard work and have renewed our effort on the defensive end. That has led to this turnaround as we are playing as a team.”

Naugatuck boys basketball senior Brandon Kuczenski on the Greyhounds’ recent five-game winning streak. Naugy rebounded from a 2-5 start to win five in a row and now sits within one win of returning to the Class L state tournament for the first time since 2009.