‘Canes Win in Overtime 74-65 Due to Wealth of Talent
The New Britain High boys basketball heads into the home stretch fulfilling much of the potential that coaches around the CCC had forecast during their preseason assessments.
The wealth of talent was easy to discern based on past performance.
Junior center Craven Johnson established a reputation as a Charles Barkley-type through two seasons of positive returns. Coach Todd Stigliano has mixed and matched his deep talent in the backcourt to craft a productive unit.
Junior forward Curtis Hyman joins Johnson as a master of the glass. Slashing senior Daequone Clark can play any position on the floor effectively.
The Hurricanes dodged a bullet January 25, overcoming a lackluster second half with a brilliant overtime performance to win going away, 74-65, against a rebuilt Northwest Catholic squad trying to find its groove for a postseason push.
New Britain, which followed up the CCC West win with a non-conference blowout at Holy Cross-Waterbury Saturday, led Northwest by as many as 14 points in the second quarter. The ’Canes stood at 11-2, 7-0 in the CCC West, after counting Holy Cross as their ninth straight victim.
Against Northwest, New Britain sustained a lead that hovered around double digits until midway through the fourth quarter when the Indians made their play. An 8-0 Northwest run over the final three minutes of regulation had the ’Canes reeling.
Stigliano noted that they’ll have to tighten it up to maintain their standing in Class LL. After the 83-58 win in Waterbury, New Britain stood eighth among the state’s largest schools.
“Every single team in the league will beat us if we don’t play hard,” Stigliano said. “You can’t go through the motions and expect to win.
“It’s an interesting position trying to move forward and still correct things. It’s hard to get the kids to understand that you need to work harder when you’re 11-2. How do I convince the kids when they say, ‘Coach, we’ve won (nine) games in a row. What do you mean we’re not getting the job done?’”
Stigliano could see the game taking a turn toward disaster.
“We got a little bit stagnant, he said. “You start to get a little bit anxious, they creep [into the game], we turn it over, then the next time down we’re more anxious. We got real tight at the end of the game. You could see it on the kids’ faces. They were afraid to make a mistake. As soon as you start to fear it, you make another mistake.”
The ’Canes rectified that quickly in the extra period.
Sheveran Williams-Hardy began with a floater off a baseline drive. Tiring Northwest star Nick Gaynor missed two free throws and Clark knifed in for a hoop.
Christian Thomas, a rising star for the Indians, converted a three-point play to bring his team within one, but Hyman nailed two free throws and Hardy converted on another drive. Meanwhile, Clark’s block deterred a Northwest revival.
Hyman fed Clark for a bucket and Michael Robinson scored in transition off a long pass from hardy to put the game away.
“We just got back to being aggressive,” Stigliano said.
“I didn’t do a good job coaching tonight but what I thought was good when we came into overtime and I said, ‘Look fellas, we made a thousand mistakes tonight and we should have lost this game, but we didn’t. We found a way to stop them on defense and now it’s 0-0. Somebody’s looking down on you gave you another chance in this game so you have to take advantage of it. All the mistakes are irrelevant now. Just go out and play the way you know how,’ and they did.”
Annuel Saint Juste carried the ’Canes in the first half, primarily in the second quarter when he scored nine of his 17 points, had two assists and a steal.
“Offensively he is so dangerous,” Stigliano said. “He just goes and goes and goes. He can shoot it. He can get to the rim. He uses his body well. He’s deceptively quick. … Now he just has to complete his game. There’s no limit to what he can do if he can really lock down on defense, but he’s our sixth man and our leading scorer.”
Northwest coach John Mirabello said from the start that New Britain would be the team to beat in the CCC West. He hasn’t altered that viewpoint.
“They’re going to be a tough out for anybody,” Mirabello said. “I wouldn’t want to see them in the state tournament. They’ve got weapons galore.”
New Britain 74, Northwest Catholic 65
(Jan. 25, Chick Shea Gym, New Britain)
NORTHWEST CATHOLIC (5-7): Christian Thomas 6 2-3 16, P.J. Edwards 0 0-2 0, Kenny Cox 3 2-2 11, Louis Lawson 2 1-1 5, Nick Gaynor 7 2-6 16, Brendan Fox 2 0-0 6, Sam Lorenzo 1 2-2 4, Matt Laffin 0 0-0 0, Mac Crispino 0 0-0 0, Michael Story Jr. 3 0-0 6. Totals 24 9-16 65.
NEW BRITAIN (10-2): Sheveran Williams-Hardy 4 8-9 17, Daequone Clark 4 2-2 10, Curtis Hyman 5 4-6 14, Michael Robinson 2 0-0 5, Craven Johnson 3 3-9 9, Annuel Saint Juste 6 0-0 17, Curtrell Hyman 0 0-0 0, Isaiah Vasquez 1 0-0 2, Ronday McCray 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 17-26 74.
NW Catholic 11 16 15 18 5 – 65
New Britain 20 15 12 12 14 – 74
Three-point goals: NWC – Thomas 2, Cox 3, Fox 2; NB – Hardy, Robinson, Saint Juste 5.