NEWINGTON - The Newington boys basketball team and the postseason have become intertwined in recent memory.
Every year for the last 17 years, the Indians have qualified for the playoffs, either in Class L or LL. But this season has been a struggle for Newington. The team sits at just 2-7 after its most to recent 52-44 loss to Southington Tuesday evening.
With 11 games remaining on the schedule it brings up the question of whether this will be another season in which the Indians make it back to the state tournament or will this be their first time sitting at home during that time since the 2000-01 season?
“I could care less about our record,” Newington’s first-year head coach Ed Quick said after the game. “I think differently than others. I just care about their effort, our attitude and how we get better every day. The record always takes care of itself.”
It hasn’t helped that the Indians have been going through some growing pains this season with a number of first-time starters and players taking on bigger roles than they have been used to in seasons past.
Following the end of the 2016-17 campaign, Newington graduated seven of the 15 players from its roster, including three-time all-state selection Jared Simmons, who not only averaged 21.4 points per game, but finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,816 points. Simmons also owns the records for most 3s and assists in a single season.
Alongside Simmons were also forward Matthew McKinnon, who set the program’s single-season record for most rebounds with 257 and defensive standout Andre Ithier-Vicenty.
But at the same time, Quick doesn’t want to use that as an excuse. He has plenty of confidence in the players he currently has on the roster.
“I could care less,” Quick said. “I have no control over what the past is. Who was here in the past and who wasn’t doesn’t really impact our program. What impacts it is the guys that just walked out right now, and how we can get better tomorrow at practice and get ready for Rocky Hill.”
This season the Indians have a full roster of 37 students, however, 29 of them are underclassmen with five juniors and just three seniors.
“We work hard every practice,” Newington forward Mason Romano said. “I’m not going to say we’re a young team but we have to keep playing harder and start off from the jump and hopefully we can win more games.”
For the Indians, it’s back to practice as they continue to try to improve with Rocky Hill waiting tonight.
“We’re just going to do what we do every day at practice,” Quick said. “Make things competitive, make sure everyone’s focused, make sure everyone is more competitive during every segment at practice and just keep working through.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org