NEWINGTON – It was slow to get going for Newington boys basketball Wednesday night, and even with a tremendous rally through the final 10 minutes of the contest, the Nor'easter boys were unable to pull out a come-from-behind win to beat New Britain.
The 46-44 loss to the Hurricanes came against a familiar head coach for Newington head coach Ed Quick. Quick knew New Britain's Kurt Reis, a former assistant of Quick's in Hartford, would bring a hard-nosed team to Newington and make it an uncomfortable game.
For the first half of the game, Newington looked uncomfortable against both the size and agility of the Hurricanes’ ball handlers and the 'Canes worked it to their advantage, winning most facets of the game.
"[New Britain} was gritty, played hard and hit shots and we stood around and played tentative," said Quick. "They won the loose ball battle, the rebound battle, ... they kind of took it at us for 16 minutes and we were tentative and not really doing anything what we remotely expect out of our guys. ... It's a mindset. You can't expect these spurts where you play well and then poorly and expect to be successful for a 32 minute game."
Quick saw improvements in the second half, which included a 17-3 fourth quarter where the Nor'easters broke down a 20-point difference. The Nor'easters made it a two-point game as time expired, nailing a three from in front of their bench. Leading in points was Nick Gagliardi with 14 points, Noah Tharaldson with 11 points and Alex Cucuta with eight points.
"Second half, it was better, even the third quarter when we didn't close the gap as much I thought we played harder. We got good shots, moved the ball better and got good contributions from our bench," said Quick. "We fought to the end and came up short by two points. ... When you're fighting to come back like that, you're scrambling and you're going to leave opportunities for the opponent to get layups or open shots."
With noticeable improvements, Quick is already looking towards how the Nor'easters can build from Wednesday and put together a better product in a Central Connecticut Conference that does not have any 'freebies' on the schedule.
"We'll build. Every game gives you an opportunity to build for your program and the next practice," said Quick. "To build from this is we've got to a better job as a program playing in two to four minute stretches and not letting our bad moments be so bad that we get down by 16 points. We have to be more consistent. Our schedule does not allow us to just cruise. We play too many good teams."
Newington's schedule will next bring up Ledyard on Dec. 29 and Bloomfield on Jan. 3 as Newington looks to get even in the win-loss columns with two months of the season left.
"Being 1-2, it tells us all we need to know. We've been inconsistent. ... We have to play connected, together approach and mindset wise or that's it," Quick said.