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Wednesday, January 16 Local

Newtown, Staples winners in holiday tournament

WESTPORT — Four games in and the Newtown boys basketball team is humming right along.

This winter is shaping up to be a memorable one for the Nighthawks.

Newtown blitzed Pomperaug 82-56 to kick off the holiday tournament at Staples High School on Thursday behind 23 points from Tucker Garrity and 21 from Robert DiSibio. The Nighthawks will face Staples, which beat Westhill 70-51 in the finale.

After claiming quality early-season wins against Torrington and Ledyard, Newtown has routed Capital Prep and the Panthers in back-to-back games. Newtown has yet to win an SWC title in school history, but hopes of accomplishing the feat are high this season.

“We’re off to a better start than last year for sure,” said Nighthawks forward Todd Petersen. “Hopefully we can end it like we did last year, but 4-0 is a pretty good start. We’re pushing the ball well; we have five guys who can handle the ball, which helps.”

The 6-foot-5 Petersen missed the early part of the season through injury, but returned to help add size to the Nighthawks. Junior point guard Riley Ward (13 points) came into his own during Newtown’s run to the Division II semifinals and sophomore Jack Petersen completes a formidable lineup.

“Last year’s run really taught us we can win games,” Newtown coach Tim Tallcouch said. “The biggest harp that I have with this team this year so far has been at times we get out to nice leads and all of a sudden relax and seem disinterested.”

The Nighthawks jumped out to a 23-7 lead after one period before Pomperaug made a run back into the game. Newtown’s offense never stopped, though, as the shots from long distance fell with ease.

“Having Todd, having Tucker Garrity for a full season, having Riley a year wiser at the point and watching Robert DiSibio reach another level is really exciting,” Tallcouch said. “We need to find guys off the bench to really help us.”

Chase Breyer led the Panthers with 16 while Dion Zhuta had 13. Pomperaug dropped to 0-4 with the loss after falling 57-53 to Northwestern on Dec. 23.

WRECKERS ROLL

Staples won five games all of last season, but now sits at 3-2 after beating the Vikings in an all-FCIAC battle. Shots didn’t fall for the Wreckers in their previous two games — losses to Warde and Danbury — but notching another win adds confidence to a promising start.

“Last season was a tough season but this team is full of believers,” said Staples senior Dylan Honig. “That’s what’s pulling us through right now. We’re playing faster; we weren’t playing too fast last year, this year the guards have been pushing it and getting on the break.”

Dylan Ward scored 19 points to pace Staples while Ben Feuer (16) and Jake Thaw (11) also hit double digits.

The Wreckers mixed in the press in the middle quarters and generated several layups as a result to build a lead. Westhill pulled the deficit to within six points early in the fourth quarter, but Staples yielded just one field goal in a several-minute span down the stretch.

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“Down the stretch Dylan Ward made a ton of plays from the foul line and breaking pressure,” Staples coach Colin Devine said. “We had genuine senior leadership on the floor to ride out a victory in the fourth quarter.”

Trinity Catholic transfer Cameron Blake scored 14 points to lead the Vikings, while Eli Stockman scored nine of his 12 points in the first half. Westhill dropped to 2-2 with the result.

“We hear it from everywhere,” said Honig. “Staples basketball, Staples basketball; getting off to a 3-2 start is a rewarding feeling for all the hard work put in during the offseason.”

rlacey@bcnnew.com, twitter.com/ryanlacey11

NEWTOWN 82, POMPERAUG 56

POMPERAUG (0-4)

Dion Zhuta 5 1-2 13 Cam Collette 0 2-2 2 Chris Moreira 1 0-0 2 Andrew Doan 2 0-0 4 Michael Stirk 3 2-2 9 Dan Minchella 2 0-0 5 Jack Messina 1 1-2 3 Chase Breyer 6 3-4 16. Totals: 20 9-12 56.

NEWTOWN (4-0)

Riley Ward 5 0-0 13 Tucker Garrity 11 0-0 23 Robert DiSibio 8 4-4 21 Todd Petersen 4 1-1 9 Jack Petersen 2 0-0 5 Max Bloomquist 4 0-0 10 Chris Shaker 0 2-2 2. Totals: 34 7-7 82.

POMPERAUG 7 18 15 14 — 56

NEWTOWN 23 17 27 20 — 82

3-pointers: P—Zhuta 2, Stirk, Minchella, Breyer; N—Ward 3, Garrity, DiSibio, Jack Petersen, Bloomquist 2.

STAPLES 70, WESTHILL 51

WESTHILL (2-2)

Eli Stockman 4 4-6 12 Anthony Scott 2 0-2 4 Sergioo Thermidor 3 1-3 7 JeySon Slade 3 0-0 7 Brian Martin 1 0-0 2 Samuel Spingola 0 1-2 1 Nick Lappas 1 0-0 2 Nathaniel Yaghoubian 0 2-2 2 Cameron Blake 3 5-6 14. Totals: 17 13-21 51.

STAPLES (3-2)

Jake Thaw 2 6-6 11 Ben Feuer 7 1-2 16 Dylan Ward 8 4-4 19 Eleftherios Pendarakis 4 0-0 8 AJ Konstanty 3 0-0 6 Lucas Basich 2 1-2 7. Totals: 26 12-14 70.

WESTHILL 17 8 17 9 — 51

STAPLES 19 16 14 21 — 70

3-pointers: W—Slade, Blake 3; S—Thaw, Fever, Ward 2, Borowsky, Basich 2.

Ryan Lacey|Reporter

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