NEW BRITAIN - From its shots, to its defense, everything was working well for the New Britain boys basketball team Saturday afternoon.
Playing its best game of the season under first-year head coach Kurt Reis, the Hurricanes beat Medgar Ever, from Brooklyn, N.Y. 70-35.
“Coach told us ahead of time that we had to come into the game strong and we had to come in with a good mindset,” sophomore guard Isaiah Jenkins said. “We can’t be scared or be feared because they were from Brooklyn.”
Not knowing much about the out-of-state team, New Britain constructed a new defense to rattle the Cougars. And rattled them, they did.
“We spent a little bit of time on a new defense for Saturday,” senior forward Jahfari Newman said. “Everyone was in tuned, focusing on the right rotations and paying attention to their spots. It definitely showed in the game. We had a lot of steals and the guys were just in the right spot.”
Jenkins added on, “We played on defense, we played with effort [and] we played with toughness. That’s what killed them. Once we started playing defense on them, it was like they didn’t want to play anymore and that helped a lot.”
The Hurricanes only allowed the Cougars to score twice in the first eight minutes, a basket for two and a foul shot from Devonte Brown.
“We were locked in defensively in the first half,” Reis said. “We were able to play eight or nine guys in the first half and there was really no drop off between substitutions.”
Overall, the Hurricanes held Medgar Ever to just 13 points or less in each quarter, holding the Cougars to single digits in the first and third quarters.
With its defense inhibiting Medgar Evers’ shot, the offense just had to finish things off.
The Hurricanes had eight players scoring five or more points.
“Daniel Kownacki has been playing well, getting us buckets in the paint,” Reis said. “That’s a big difference. He puts us in a position not to settle and just takes jump shots.”
Kownacki led New Britain with 13 points total and shot 5-for-10 at the free throw line. Shamaah Charles added 10 while David Rybczyk had nine.
“With the pieces we have and the kids on our team, this should be the outcome every time,” Newman said.
The season is almost halfway over for the Hurricanes and with 11 games left in the regular season, the players are already setting their sights on a return to the playoffs.
“We want to see a change from last year to this year,” Jenkins said. “Every time we break out in a huddle we say ‘change’. It means a lot to us.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860)801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org