Boys Basketball: Trying to make sense of a losing streak

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It hasn’t just been the losing streak that has been frustrating, but it has been the way that the boys basketball teams dropped their games last week.

The Blue Knights (7-7) entered this week as losers of five straight, and three of those were decided by three points or less. Head coach John Cessario said the team’s approach of one opponent at a time has not changed as they try to break out of the slump.

“This season has been so unpredictable,” Cessario said. “But as far as I am concerned, we are just looking to go 1-0 every time we go out there. If we happen to go 0-1 a few times, especially with the schedule we have, we just want to be as prepared as possible for each team and we have tried to do that to the best of our ability.”

Southington has not necessarily struggled during the losing streak. Their top scorers have not lost their touch and Cessario said the team has given their best effort each game. The combined record of their last five opponents is 47-30, with three of those teams having at least 10 wins.

Their tough stretch continued last week. Here is what happened:

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Comeback falls short

FEB. 4—Much like their loss against Newington, Southington had the ball in the final seconds with a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. Jared Kelly was able to get a look from three-point range close to the buzzer but couldn’t find the bottom of the net in a 71-68 loss.

The Knights led by as many as nine in the first half and was holding a three-point lead with three minutes to go. A key three-pointer from Manchester’s Dashan King put the Red Hawks in front with about a minute to go.

Southington still got big second halves from Jared Kelly and Jake Napoli. The Knights’ two leading scorers combined for 18 points in the second half and 52 on the game. Kelly finished with 30 points, 17 coming in the first half, to go with eight rebounds and six assists. Napoli scored 22 on 7-of-12 shooting.

Four different players scored in double figures for Manchester.

Loss to Glastonbury

FEB. 6—It was another game where Southington was in it as they headed into the locker room for halftime, but fell behind in the second half and couldn’t catch back up.

Kelly and Napoli provided big first quarters again, combining for 12 of the team’s 18 points to give the Knights the lead after the quarter. While Glastonbury stormed back in the second quarter, outscoring Southington 20-7, the Tomahawks led by eight at halftime.

Glastonbury’s defense began to lock up Kelly and Napoli in the second half, as Southington combined for just 19 points in the third and fourth quarters. Kelly was held scoreless while Napoli scored eight.

Napoli ended with a team-high 14 while Dylan Olson chipped in with 11 points, including 7 in the third quarter.

Loss to Fairfield Prep

FEB. 8—In Southington’s longest road trip of the season, they were in another nail-biting affair when they played in an out-of-conference matchup against Fairfield Prep.

With just over thirty seconds to play, Napoli hit a three-pointer to tie the game but that allowed Fairfield Prep to have the last shot. With under five seconds, Fairfield Prep’s Max McGillicuddy missed a driving layup but his teammate, Aidan Harding was there for the offensive rebound and tipped it in for the game-winner. It was Harding’s only basket of the game.

Southington led by three at halftime and was winning by one to start the fourth quarter. However, Fairfield Prep’s offense began to get in a groove with five triples in the second half after missing nine straight during the first half.

Napoli led the Knights with 23 points, while Kelly, Olson, and Nick Marecki each scored eight.

“We played as good as we could have against Fairfield Prep but we came up short,” Cessario said. “Then you have a game where we could have done better against Newington and we still came up short. I just think Fairfield Prep made a few extra baskets. Yes it was a frustrating loss but we played as together as we can be. We just got to have short memory and make adjustments.”

Southington tried to get back on track this week against defending Division III state champion, Farmington (10-3), and Conard (10-6). They will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Wethersfield at 6:45 p.m.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at Sports@SouthingtonObserver.com.