NEW BRITAIN - It was a different opponent than the New Britain boys basketball team was used to Saturday afternoon.
It couldn’t have worked out any better for the Hurricanes, who are now on a three-game winning streak.
New Britain controlled all 48 minutes of gameplay as the team defeated Medgar Evers out of Brooklyn, N.Y. 70-35.
“Coming into the game today, there was a lot of jitters,” said Hurricanes senior Jahfari Newman, who finished his night with seven points. “But once the tip went up everyone focused on the task at hand. We gave them nonstop pressure and kept the game going.”
It was a total team effort for New Britain, which had just two players finish in double figures with Daniel Kownacki scoring a game-high 13 points and Shamaah Charles adding 10 points of his own. David Rybczyk scored nine.
Jalen Gist was the Cougars’ leading scorer with 10 points. He was was the only Medgar Evers player to reach double figures.
The Hurricanes started and stayed strong from start to finish, holding the Cougars to just 13 points in the first half, including three over the first eight minutes of the game.
During the first quarter, New Britain jumped out to an early 7-2 lead and closed out the quarter with an 11-3 lead.
David Rybcyk started off the second quarter for New Britain hitting a 3 and continued the game from there. The Hurricanes also used the Cougars fouls to their advantage as they were sent to the foul line four different times, shooting 5-for-8. As the time on the clock wound down, New Britain went on 5-4 run, finishing off a 14-10 quarter to head into the locker room with a 25-13 advantage.
“We were locked in defensively in the first half,” New Britain head coach Kurt Reis said. “It was a great effort overally. We were able to play eight or nine guys maybe in the first half and there was really no drop off between substitutions.”
The Hurricanes displayed a tremendous amount of defensive effort during the third quarter as well, holding the Cougars to nine points in the first eight minutes after halftime. New Britain, meanwhile, scored 21.
For the first three minutes of the third, Medgar Evers was completely scoreless. The Cougars finally hit their first basket when Devonte Brown hit one of his two free throws, while Brandon Alexis hit 1-for-2 from the foul line shortly after.
With two minutes left in the third, New Britain went on an 11-2 run, getting back-to-back baskets from Kownacki and a 3-point goal at the sound of the buzzer from Isaiah Jenkins. By the time the fourth quarter had come around, the Hurricanes had grown their lead to 46-22.
“I feel like we played a full performance,” said Jenkins, who added seven points of his own. “In previous games, we’ve played one or two good quarters, but today I feel like we finally played a full game and the outcome was good.”
The fourth quarter ended up playing out much like the first three, with New Britain controlling the pace of the game and the floor. The Hurricanes outscored the Cougars 24-13 in the final period.
Rybcyk had another strong start in the fourth with back-to-back 3-point goals, sparking the Hurricanes’ 14-6 run. Malik Shode hit New Britain’s third 3 of the quarter with 1:30 left in the game and by then, there was nothing the Cougars could do to recover.
“Today’s game was an all around team effort,” Kownacki said. “This game, we just worked as a team. We played from the first whistle to the last. Everyone hustled and pitched in. It was a good team win.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org