Rocky Hill Roundball Rebuilding
Rocky Hill #35 Jayden Osei-Tutu defends Bristol Eastern's Lukas Sward during the Terriers loss on Jan. 10.
Every team in the state is navigating through an uncertain winter. The boys’ basketball team at Rocky Hill is facing the same challenges while also trying to restore the roar of the program during a rebuilding year.
The Terriers suffered their seventh loss in seven games last Monday, Jan. 10, falling to Bristol Eastern 44-29 at RHHS.
“Obviously it’s hard when you’re 0-7, but the idea is that we have a good group of sophomores coming up and we are working to get wins,” said Rocky Hill head coach Mike Dudis. “Not only did we have guys that we thought we'd have before the year not play but we have not had our top nine in a game yet. We’ve had COVID issues like every other team in the state.”
Rocky Hill’s win/loss record is certainly not a reflection of effort. The Terriers play an aggressive brand of basketball that makes it difficult for other teams to get into an offensive rhythm.
Both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket early, playing to a 5-5 tie after the first quarter. A wing three-pointer by Yazdan Aftab tied it for the home team at the end of the quarter and senior captain Jayden Osei-Tutu provided the team’s biggest lead at 13-10 after he finished with a soft touch around the basket midway through the second quarter.
Osei-Tutu’s bucket would be the team’s final points of the half as the visiting Lancers ended the second quarter on an 11-0 run and never looked back.
“Even though we’re not getting the results on the court, I can see us getting better a little bit every day. Obviously it’s a process and in a rebuilding year you just have to stay positive the best you can,” added Dudis.
The second half featured more scoring struggles for Rocky Hill, with the exception of Osei-Tutu, who scored 12 of his game-high 16 in the second half. The senior scored all but three of the team’s points over the final 16 minutes.
“Jay is our best offensive player and he knows that. I think he puts a little pressure on himself to do too much but he is capable of handling that,” said Dudis, “He’s a good leader and he understands we are in a bit of a rebuild, and that’s tough when you’re a senior.”
Osei-Tutu has assumed the bulk of the offensive load this season, particularly in a game against Hartford Public on Jan. 3 when he scored 23 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds.
Against Bristol Eastern, Osei-Tutu hit a short jumper to cut the deficit to 34-24 at the beginning of the fourth before the visitors sealed the game with a 10-0 run fueled by Lukas Sward, who scored six of his team-high 15 during the run.
Junior Tyler Carlstrom ran the point for the Terriers, while sophomores Casey Robinson and Shiv Ghutadaria provided energy. Robinson finished with four assists and Ghutadaria snared a handful of rebounds, including a pair of offensive rebounds on the opening possession of the fourth quarter.
Dudis said the team is a work in progress and that it’s just about the young players getting comfortable on the court with the offense, “We’ve installed a couple of new offenses recently and we need more reps with them. I do think we are on the cusp of something and even though it didn’t show today it will just take more practice. We’ve also had opportunities in tight games and we missed a couple of point blank layups and wide open threes. Other teams right now are hitting those and good teams take advantage of those opportunities and we haven’t been able to do that.”
Following the loss to Bristol Eastern, the Terriers suffered defeats against Stafford and Bloomfield, dropping their record to 0-9.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Terriers, who play on the road against undefeated RHAM this Friday before heading home for three straight against South Windsor (1/24), Lewis Mills (1/28) and Windsor (1/31). All three home games tip at 6:30 p.m.
“We just have to get more disciplined across the board,” added Dudis. ”The defensive intensity has to pick up and I want that to be a staple of this team. At the very least if you’re going to come play us, we’ll give you a hard game every single time.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin