NEWINGTON - The Newington boys basketball team, in desperate need of a win, continuously tried to find separation from visiting Bulkeley during Monday night’s contest.
The Indians built an eight-point edge shortly before halftime, but as they did throughout the first half, the Bulldogs quickly cut the deficit back down to four. But Newington wouldn’t be denied, outscoring Bukeley 8-0 to start the second half to create some lasting separation and snap a four-game losing streak in the form of a 69-58 victory.
“We talked at halftime about one thing: defense,” head coach Ed Quick said. “We work on it every day…in the first half I thought we did a poor job defensively. We built a lead and got comfortable.”
Donovan Price led the way with 22 points while shooting 10-for-12 from the free throw line. Patrick Brennan added 11, including a crucial bucket early in the third quarter to spark the decisive run.
The Indians (2-6) slowly built a 5-0 lead thanks to a running baseline floater from Jordan Dukes and a trio of free throws from Price, while the defense held Bulkeley (2-5) scoreless on its first six field goal attempts. Following a Bulldogs miss, Newington found an open look from three in transition, and Patrick Brennan buried the triple to make it 8-0, and force a Bulkeley timeout midway through the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs ended the run out of the timeout on a jumper by Errol Hall, then pulled to within 10-7 minutes later on a corner three from Luis Almedina and a fadeaway jumper from the elbow by Kobe Williams, who scored the first of his game-high 29 points.
Williams and Price, who finished the quarter with a game-high 11 points, continued to trade shots through the end of the first quarter, and after Price hit a pair of free throws with six seconds to go, Bulkeley pushed up the floor and gave Almedina an open look from the corner, and the junior drained the 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 16 apiece, with Price providing the bulk of the offense for Newington.
“Me getting the ball in the middle and being able to play downhill really helped,” Price said of his big first quarter. “I was able to attack the basket and had guys to kick it out to if I needed it.”
Brennan opened the second quarter with his second 3-pointer to give the lead back to the Indians, then drained another with 5:30 left in the half to increase the lead to six. The lead grew to eight with 1:50 left in the second quarter when Steph Charmeco came off the bench and knocked down a running shot from the baseline, but the Bulldogs kept it close, trimming the deficit to four by halftime thanks to a collective effort from the free throw line. Bulkeley converted all 10 of its foul shots in the first half, accounting for nearly half of the team’s point total.
Newington opened the second half with a quick 6-0 surge, getting consecutive baskets from Alexander Ford, Jayden Andujar and Brennan to force a timeout from the Bulldogs, who were suddenly down 10 after a strong close to the first half.
Price, who had been held scoreless in the second quarter, got a wide-open layup following an offensive rebound to push the lead to a dozen following the timeout, as the Indians had rattled off a quick 8-0 run to build a comfortable lead.
“It was huge,” Price said of the third-quarter run. “What caused that was our defense. We’re a good defensive team, and being able to show that really helped us.”
Leading by 10 after three, Jordan Dukes opened the fourth quarter with a deep three to give Newington its largest lead of the night at 13. An Andujar layup off a fast break with 4:50 to play increased the lead to 15, putting the game out of reach for Bulkeley.
“I’m proud of our defense in the second half,” Quick said. “I thought we did a good job and we outrebounded them. That’s the type of defense we want.”
NEWINGTON 69, BULKELEY 58
Bulkeley 16 10 13 19 - 58
Newington 16 14 19 20 - 69
Bulkeley: Kobe Williams 11-7-29, Luis Almedina 2-0-6, Raysean Epps 3-3-10, Errol Hall 3-5-11, Joseph Edmonds 0-1-1. Talib Christian 0-1-1. Totals: 19-17-58.
Newington: Jayden Andujar 4-0-9, Patrick Brennan 4-0-11, Jordan Dukes 5-1-12, Donovan Price 6-10-22, Alexander Ford 4-0-8, Razik Amadou 1-3-5, Steph Charmeco 1-0-2. Totals: 25-14-69.
Records: Newington 2-6, Bulkeley 2-5.