SOUTHINGTON - Southington allowed Hall (4-1) to jump out to an early 17-8 lead midway through the first quarter in Monday night’s game. After that early burst from the Warriors, though, the Blue Knights’ defense locked down and led the team to an impressive victory 51-41, for their second win of the season.
Southington allowed just three points in the third quarter and 16 points total in the second half. The Blue Knights knew they would have to contend with Daniel Brocke, Hall’s 6-foot-5 center, and while there was a specific game plan for him, the team wanted to make sure it locked down the perimeter first so that it could turn defense into offense.
“It was the defensive end that allowed us to get in transition and we preached that at halftime,” Southington head coach John Cessario said. “If you defend the perimeter you give yourself an opportunity to [fast] break. Hall is a good inside team and we wanted to make them run. I think we got them to run a little bit and we defended the perimeter pretty well. Anytime you can defend the perimeter good things happen.”
The Blue Knights didn’t start off the game defending the perimeter very well as Hall’s Megel Hudson made three three-pointers in the first quarter himself, but from there it was hard for the Warriors to find any open shots from outside. After those three first-quarter threes from Hudson, Hall didn’t hit another one until garbage time in the fourth quarter.
The perimeter defense improved exponentially after the first, but the constants in the game were the interior defense and Southington’s ability to hold its own on the glass against a bigger Hall team. Brocke garnered a lot of attention throughout the game and was visibly frustrated for much of the evening as he was smothered by several defenders every time he touched the ball.
“We had an extra special scout on them,” Cessario said. “We knew how good Brocke is. He is a senior. He is 6-foot-5 and he knows how to use his body. We made sure that everything he was going to get was going to be earned. We weren’t going to allow him to get an open look. We knew he was going to screen and roll, we knew he was going to get pin downs, but we made sure guys were on help side to make him earn it through two maybe even three guys.
“That’s where we are almost comfortable giving up a perimeter shot, if that inside presence is being taken care of. I have to give credit to Tim O’Shea and Jeremy Mercier and all of the guards that came down and gave some help. That’s a good thing.”
It was a team effort defending Brocke, as the Blue Knights don’t have anyone on their roster to match his size, but O’Shea and Mercier were the primary defenders throughout the contest and they did a more than adequate job.
“O’Shea was on him for the most part and he did a good job, but whenever I had to cover him I just went in there and tried to continue what he was doing,” Mercier said.
Brocke did have a big impact on the game on the defensive end as he blocked several shots, but he only scored six points. Even bigger than the lack of offensive production was the fact that Brocke was saddled with foul trouble throughout the majority of the game. Typically foul trouble comes from the defensive end, but Hall’s big man picked up his first two fouls on the offensive end, going for offensive rebounds and Cessario credited the teams work on the defensive glass for that.
“There is a fundamental behind it, boxing out,” Cessario said. “It might be a lost art when it comes to high-school athletics, but we take pride in getting between our opponents and the basket.
“When you get that and put pressure on their guys coming over the top, we were able to get two of those fouls against Brocke [on Monday] and that is a big difference maker when you only get five fouls per person. I give [our] big guys credit, they really kept their bigs off the glass and it was a big factor in us being able to win that game.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org