Rocky Hill's Benjamin Ciccaglione attempts a foul shot
The Rocky Hill Terriers returned home last Thursday night looking to halt a three game losing streak. All three of the loses occurred on the road, so Rocky Hill coach Josh Dinerman was hoping the friendly confines would change the team’s fortunes.
Unfortunately, Dinerman’s Terriers were hosting the red-hot Edwin O. Smith Panthers, who had won five of their previous six games. The result was a 63-52 Panthers’ victory, in a game which featured a raucous home crowd, several official-coach conferences, and a technical foul.
Both teams played aggressive man-to-man defenses, which made scoring a challenge in the first quarter. With E.O. Smith holding a narrow 13-12 lead after the first eight minutes, Panthers’ senior swingman Mitchell Foster heated up and took the game over. Foster, who was held scoreless in the opening quarter, scored 12 points in a three-minute span to start the second quarter. His 12 points were part of a 13-0 Panthers’ run that ballooned their lead to 26-14, a lead which the Mansfield-based school never relinquished.
In the second half, The Terriers clawed their way back into the game once senior captain Tommy Seaver found his range and scored six points, cutting the deficit to 43-37 late in the third. However, a buzzer-beating three pointer by Panthers’ Hunter Hamlin closed the quarter and increased the road team’s lead to nine. Hamlin led all scorers with 20 points, including eight in the final quarter.
“We are not making enough plays right now, but we will continue to improve and work hard every day,” Dinerman said, “We need to take care of the little things on a consistent basis. We are close to turning the corner, but it is going to take 32 minutes of smart basketball with all-out effort. Our defense is keeping us in games, but we need to start making shots.”
The game featured only three lead changes, all in the opening quarter, but there was plenty of drama that filled the gymnasium at Rocky Hill High School. Both teams played physical and intense defense, which presented a daunting task for the game’s officiating crew. The frenetic pace led to several fouls, resulting in numerous trips to the free-throw line for the visiting Panthers.
Rocky Hill made one last run in the fourth-quarter and had narrowed E.O. Smith’s lead to six, but a technical foul on the Terriers riled up an already boisterous home crowd and swung the momentum back towards the Panthers. E.O Smith finished with a major advantage from the foul-line, shooting 33 foul shots, compared to Rocky Hill’s seven.
Despite the discrepancy from the charity stripe, Rocky Hill starters and team-leaders Seaver and Greg Marzilli kept the Terriers competitive with clutch shots and sound defense. However, both finished the game from the bench, after fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“Our goal for the next seven games is to continue to put in maximum effort, which is always the case, but to also expect results from our efforts,” Marzilli, who finished with eight points and three steals, said, “We really want to make it to the 8-win mark, and if we continue to work hard, I think it'll be possible.”
“We have some challenging games ahead so we need to come together as a team and finish strong.” Seaver, who scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, added.
Rocky Hill (4-9) still has its sights set on a tournament berth, but in order to get in they will have to finish winning at least four of their final seven games. Fortunately for the Terriers, four of those games are at home, including the final three. They’ll return home Monday Feb. 10th for a clash with Tolland, who edged the Terriers 57-54 earlier this month in Tolland. The important conference tilt will tip at 7 p.m.
Boys Basketball Round-Up
Wethersfield Getting Offensive
The Wethersfield Eagles will have to finish strong in order to qualify for the tournament. But make it or not, it will not be because of a lack of offense. The Eagles are 6-7 this season, but they have won two of their last three and have averaged 76 points per game over those three games.
The increase in offensive production could be attributed to the team’s great ball movement and by the number of players that can score from both the inside and out. Ryan Peterson and Pierce Weatherspoon are versatile forwards, who have great shooting range and can put the ball on the floor and attack the basket.
The Eagles have six games remaining, with four of those games away from home. The challenging road will make their back-to-back home games against East Catholic (Feb. 19) and Hall (Feb. 21) even more important. Both games will be played at The Sports and Medical Science Academy in Hartford and tip at 7:30 and 6 p.m., respectively.
Newington Hoping for Repeat of Last Season
The Newington Indians are in a familiar position. The have won five of 12 games and will need to make a push to qualify for the tournament. Coach Scott Wenzel can lean on last season’s results to motivate his team to finish strong. The 2012-2013 Indians won eight of their last 10 games, en route to winning a first-round tournament game.
If Newington is able to make another late-season push it will be because senior Marcus Guadarrama is leading the way. The all-conference forward is getting help from several teammates, including freshman-phenom Jared Simmons, who was named the area’s athlete of the week last Tuesday.
Newington has three straight home games ahead, which should help in the effort to duplicate last season’s finish. The first of the home games will be against cross-town rival New Britain on Tuesday Feb. 11th. The bragging rights game will tip at 7 p.m.
Cromwell Tournament Bound
Coach John Pinone’s Panthers boys are in great position heading into another tournament run. The team is 11-2 and is playing their best basketball at the right time.
Jake Regula is leading the way offensively, scoring 15 points per game, and fellow senior DeAndre Hamlin is adding seven points and four assists a game. Regula and Hamlin are two of Cromwell’s seven seniors that have been playing together for years and it shows in the team’s chemistry on the court
The Panthers are finishing up a three game road trip and return home Friday, Feb 7th to host Morgan. The conference clash tips at 7 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin