NEW BRITAIN - Daniel Kownacki jogged down the left side of the court and looked back for the pass.
As soon as the ball hit his hands, New Britain’s big man cut towards the basket, around a BFA Elite (Hartford) defender and powered his way to the basket against another for the layup.
It was one of the favorite plays New Britain utilized on the afternoon in an easy 55-36 win Saturday in the third round of the Nutmeg Games 16U Boys Basketball Tournament.
“That was our press breaker,” head coach Michael Thomas said. “We call it four cross. We go from one man to five man. Four man takes the ball out and the five man runs that lane and if they run it right, he’ll be wide open, which he was.”
It was also the team’s fourth win in the tournament of at least 19 points, having outscored its opponents by a total of 233-121, highlighting the possibilities of what could be for the upcoming high school season.
But for now, New Britain will focus on playing for the gold medal today at 5 p.m.
Kownacki was everywhere on the court, finishing with a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds. He also had one block. BFA Elite simply did not have an answer for him and Kownacki took advantage, especially in the paint and around the net.
By the time the middle of the second half rolled around, the big man was eliciting cheers from his bench and the stands as his teammates fed him the ball and outmaneuvered his would-be defenders.
“I was just being more aggressive,” Kownacki said. “These past couple games, I was playing soft and I wanted to change that. Playing aggressive has helped me play like that.”
It did not take long for New Britain to establish its dominance. The team went on a 7-0 run to open up the game and led 25-10 with 4:07 left in the first half.
BFA Elite managed to go on a 7-2 run to close out the half on a few timely shots from Mathieu Augustin, who finished with a team-high 13 points.
But that would be as close as the score would get as New Britain reasserted itself in the second half, outscoring BFA Elite 25-19.
Five New Britain players other than Kownacki scored five points or more.
“We were just trying to play together,” Kownacki said. “This upcoming season we have a new coach, so everything is brand new. We just want to have that good team chemistry in the offseason so when the season comes up, we’ll be ready to play ball.”
As successful as New Britain was on the offensive end, it was just as effective on the defensive side of the court and on the glass. New Britain outrebounded BFA Elite 31-15.
“I told the kids I wanted to see teamwork, play hard and play smart,” Thomas said. “There’s facets in between, but the No. 1 thing is we better play defense; and we played defense. I told the kids the ball does move faster than the man. But if you’re in front of that man, contest shots, box out, things will be fine.”
Now, New Britain will look to continue this style of play through its final 40 minutes, with a gold medal in sight and another opponent to improve against.
“It’s a total team effort,” Thomas said. “It’s all for one and one for all. The big man had a great game today. Maybe [in the gold medal game] someone else will have one.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach