(Newtown CT) It made perfect sense to use a triangle-and-two defense to try and stop Stamford guards Jay Devito and Yan Carlos Marte.
Why? The twosome had combined for forty-three points in the Black Knights’ opener against New Milford.
But while Newtown quieted Jay and Yan Carlos to just sixteen points between them, their teammate Nico Laveris lit up the Hawks for 34 points and was truly the key to Stamford’s 70-64 overtime win on Wednesday night.
Nico picked up his 4th foul early in the final quarter but strategic substituting by SHS coach Danny Melzer kept him out of the defensive end as much as possible. Good thing because this kept Nico available to score seven of Stamford’s last eight points in regulation, including a jump shot with forty seconds left to get the Black Knights into overtime.
The Hawks’ Nick Weiland had two glittering chances in the final forty seconds to cash the winner but not on this night. Nick’s second attempt was a half-court drive after a turnover in the final seconds that somehow Jay Devito and Nico Laveris avoided committing a foul on.
In the four-minute OT Nico set the tone on Stamford’s first possession draining a three and the Black Knight’s never trailed after that.
Newtown (0-2) got within one (65-64) but Dillon Palumbo missed the tying free throw attempt with thirty-six seconds left. The visitors made five-of-six free throws the rest of the way while Newtown had turnovers on both of their possessions.
This was one of those games in which you figured if you waited long enough the team that was trailing would soon catch up. There were plenty of ties and lead changes.
This was the home opener for the Hawks. Newtown, 14-8 last season, has had to replace all five starters.
Jay Devito had eleven rebounds to go with his thirteen points.
Dillon Palumbo (16), Nevin Zink (15), and Sam Duffy (14) had double figures for the home team.
Tevin St. John (12) reached double figures for Stamford.
Junior Sam Grossano fouled out early in the 4th quarter for Newtown.
Stamford (2-0) had a six-point lead (39-33) in the third quarter with 4 ½ minutes left but Newtown went on a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to pull ahead 43-41. Dillon Palumbo had six points in that segment including a 3-pointer.
Both teams were miserable at the charity stripe. Newtown: 14-for-25. Stamford: 21-for-37. Key to the win other than Nico? Stamford made 8 of 10 free throws in overtime.
Stamford, though undersized, played man-to-man throughout the game.
Next game for Newtown is hosting Kolbe Cathedral on December 28th.
Stamford visits Joel Barlow on the same day.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)