BRISTOL - For most teams, it would have been a death sentence.
The Terryville boys basketball team opened this season with just one win in its first six games. Its margin of defeat in the five losses was 13.2 points.
But the Kangaroos ripped off five consecutive wins following the rough start and, after losing four straight, won four of their last five games to finish 10-10 on the season and qualify for the Class S state tournament.
Terryville’s season came to an end on Tuesday with a first-round 57-39 loss to St. Paul but the team is not disappointed with how the season turned out.
“To start 1-5, and I think a lot of people had us dead and buried, to come back and make the tournament, finish .500, says a lot about the character of this team,” Terryville coach Mark Fowler said.
The game against the Falcons was, in some ways, a microcosm of the Kangaroos’ season. Entering the game, they were a heavy underdog but the Kangaroos fought hard and stayed in the game well into the fourth quarter, even if the final score may not show it.
“It means the world because that’s what Terryville basketball is,” Fowler said. “There isn’t an off button on these guys. They just kept coming at them. I’m really proud of that and it really comes from the seniors - the seniors’ effort, their character. It showed at the end.”
Part of the fight Terryville showed certainly had a lot to do with its coach. This was Fowler’s first year back on the sidelines after taking a year off from coaching to be with his son and he didn’t miss a beat.
“It felt natural,” Fowler said about coming back. “I missed my year to be with this little guy right here. It felt good to be back and be part of Terryville basketball again.”
As good as it felt for Fowler, his return was just as well-received by his players.
“It’s great to have him back,” Terryville’s Mike Tiscia said. “Dave [Alarcon] did a great job last year and he’s still doing a great job as an assistant. But we love Fowler and we’re happy to have him back.”
The Kangaroos needed a push after starting the season 1-5 and Fowler was just the coach to do it.
“After that fifth loss, we were in the locker room and coach told us, ‘We’re coming back. Don’t tell anyone you’re not good.’ And we did it,” Tiscia said. “We came back and we fought and we worked hard as any other team did. And we’re here and we’re happy to be here.”
While the season did not end in a playoff victory or an over-.500 record, the Kangaroos still see it as a successful season because of what it will mean for the program’s future. Terryville is only losing three seniors before next season and will have a strong group of seven juniors, including Tiscia, returning next season.
Having a season like they did where they battled after a meager start and qualified for the state tournament could also have a big impact on the Kangaroos next season.
“It definitely gives us momentum going into next season,” Tiscia said. “I feel like we’re going to have a great next season. We had a great ending to this season.”
Like Tiscia, Fowler sees this past season as a sign of good things to come for the Terryville boys basketball program.
“It means the world to us because we have some underclassmen who are outstanding players and we’re planning on being back and better next year,” he said.
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @K_baum30