NEWINGTON - The Southington boys basketball program hasn’t found itself in this position in eight years - facing the possibility of making back-to-back postseason appearances.
At 6-2 and approaching the halfway point of the season, the Blue Knights only needs two more wins to qualify for the Division III playoff bracket after reaching the Class LL playoffs last year. Should Southington collect those two victories, it would mark the first time the program has accomplished the feat since the 2009-10, 2010-11 seasons.
“We literally go into every game 0-0. That’s our mantra, we just want to go 1-0,” Southington head coach John Cessario said. “We don’t look forward, we don’t look back. We want to definitely do something that's going to make us 1-0. But yes, mathematically speaking, we need two more.”
The Blue Knights pushed their win total to six Tuesday night as they defeated Newington 52-44.
“Tremendously fought game,” Cessario said afterward. “That’s the way Newington and Southington used to always play and it was great to have these guys earn the win.”
In order to achieve two more wins, the Blue Knights are looking for a bit more consistency moving forward. They have to keep up with their defense, which can be lacking from time to time. During the first eight minutes of Tuesday’s game, it was the Indians who controlled the ball, outscoring Southington 11-8.
In the last 30 seconds of the quarter, Newington’s Mason Romano was able to make a 3-pointer, steal the possession right back and to run to the basket for a slam dunk.
“The first quarter was really off and our defense wasn’t there,” Southington shooting guard Andrew Lohneiss said. “We weren’t stopping them. We let them rip through the middle and it just wasn’t good defensively. Then second quarter we picked it up and ran better.”
The Blue Knights limited the Indians to only six points during the second quarter. Once the defense clicked for Southington there was no turning back.
“We have to defend as much as we defended [Tuesday],” Cessario said. “What we did against Bloomfield (46-29 W), we want to replicate night in and night out. We want to make sure that we make it as difficult as it can be to score [on us]. [Tuesday] we did that, a little bit with switching and changing, but we also had some laps and we gotta break that down.”
Southington’s next matchup will be at home against Northwest Catholic on Friday at 6:45 p.m.
“We have a talented team coming in at the end of the week and it’s no taking off if you want to win,” Cessario said.
As long as Southington keeps up with its defense, inhibiting every opportunity its opponent has to score, the Blue Knights should have no problem winning at least two out of their final 11 games.
“If we start playing better defense, I don't think we’re going to lose another game,” Southington point guard Colin Burdette said.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or email@example.com