(Newtown CT) There was a tie and three lead changes in the last two minutes but at the end it was Newtown (8-5) hanging on to a 58-56 win over Joel Barlow (6-8) on Friday night in South-West Conference action.
The Falcons carried a 56-55 lead into the final 1:24 but had a missed shot, two turnovers, and a desperation heave at the very end to show for the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, the Nighthawks were able to take the lead when Mike Davis (14 points) put back his own missed shot. After a JB miss, Julian Dunn (22 points) made one of two free throws with fifty-five seconds left. That resulting two-point bulge (58-56) turned out to be enough despite Newtown failing to ice the game by missing four free throws in a row after Julian’s made free throw.
Both teams had their moments before the exciting finish.
Newtown jumped ahead 14-7 in the first six minutes riding two 3’s by senior Brian Leblanc.
Then it was Joel Barlow’s turn to get carried from long range as Will Menapace (15 points) connected four times before halftime. The outside accuracy was part of a 25-11 Falcons’ run that put the visitors from Redding in front 34-25 at the half.
The Nighthawks rallied early in the second half to get within four (37-33). You had to think that Newtown’s luck might have changed for the better when the last three points were off a 3-pointer off the backboard by Troy Frangione.
However this was a game where the direction you thought it was heading could quickly change. Instead of wilting under the Newtown charge, the Falcons put nine unanswered points together. Meanwhile, the Nighthawks put a string of turnovers together (four) and trailed 46-33 with 1:43 left in the third quarter.
Newtown certainly looked to be in trouble but over the next 4+ minutes of playing time, stretching into the final quarter, it was their turn to be in control. The Nighthawks constructed a 16-4 segment, led by two 3’s (Brian Leblanc) and eight points on the inside by Julian Dunn.
When that dust cleared, Newtown had taken the lead, 49-48, with 4:25 to go in the game.
But credit Joel Barlow. Before you knew it the momentum had changed and they were back in front, 56-55, with 1:24 left after three-point plays by Will Bracken and Will Menapace.
That set up the exciting finish.
Key to the win was the blanket defense Troy Frangione put on first-half shooting star Will Menapace in the second half. Will had trouble getting the ball never mind shooting it. He did, however, make a huge three that gave JB it’s last lead.
A key basket in Newtown’s second-half, 16-4, burst came after a wild 3-point attempt by Brian Leblanc ended up in the layup-producing hands of teammate Julian Dunn. Trust me, there was no assist involved.
Junior John Tucker had eleven points for Joel Barlow.
Jake Ball only scored four points for Newtown but both layups came in the final three minutes of the game.
Newtown has now won eight of their last nine games after an 0-4 start.
Joel Barlow had now lost four of their last five games.
JB will host Weston on February 4th (Tuesday 7PM) while Newtown visits New Milford on the same day and at the same time.
Joel Barlow was 7-13 last year missing the Class M tournament by one game.
I tell people that they need to come to a Newtown home basketball game just to see what their cheerleaders and dance teams can do. Tonight was no different although I suspect both squads were hedging their bets in this game because of serious competitions tomorrow.
Is there a good reason why programs aren’t produced?
Mike Davis and Julian Dunn ran some excellent give-and-goes for Newtown.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)