WILTON — Tim Tallcouch was never able to win the big game when he was coaching at Wilton.
On Monday night, though, he returned to Wilton’s Zeoli Field House and won the biggest game of his career.
Tallcouch’s 21st-seeded Nighthawks stunned the 13th-seeded Warriors on their home floor, advancing to the CIAC Division II semifinals with a 57-54 overtime victory in the quarterfinals.
“I’ll take all the losses I’ve had in the last six years I’ve been here to get to this win and get us to the semifinals,” Tallcouch said. “That’s how much I wanted it, how much we wanted it. The kids came out and were ready to play.”
Robert Disibio netted 16 points, while 6-foot-5 junior center Todd Peterson added 15, the biggest of which came with 2:10 left in overtime, tying the game at 52-52.
“It was huge, but so were all the other 50-something points,” Peterson said. “They were all clutch.”
Down the stretch, Newtown sank five of eight to build a 57-54 lead with 4.4 seconds to play.
The Nighthawks missed two free throws that could have iced the game, giving Wilton one more shot at forcing a second overtime.
Following a Warriors’ timeout, Scott Cunningham launched an off-balance 21-foot 3-pointer that caught the rim a couple of times before falling away, giving Newtown the win.
“It went just about the way we drew it up,” Wilton coach Joel Geriak said. “I would have liked to get a little better look, it was off-balance, but it wasn’t a bad look.”
Antonio Brancato led Wilton with 15 points, while Nick Kronenberg added 10. Cunningham and Kyle Maatallah added nine points each.
“I’m happy for Tim,” said Geriak, who was hired by Tallcouch to join Wilton’s staff before taking over the head coaching job. “What that team has done this year. Nobody gave them a chance to beat Ledyard (in the first round), nobody gave them a chance to beat Pomperaug (in the second round) and nobody gave them a chance to beat us. There’s nothing overly exciting about them, but they play hard and do what they have to do to win games.”
Newtown (14-10) will face Amity in the semifinals.
FROM CHRISTMAS TO PRESENT
Newtown made the trip to Wilton back on Dec. 27 and lost by 22 during the Warriors’ annual holiday tournament.
It was a vastly different team that showed up for the postseason showdown, though.
“We had three brand new starters in at that time,” Tallcouch said. “When you start a sophomore point guard, it takes time and we just got continuously better.”
That point guard — Riley Ward — scored four of Newtown’s first six points in the fourth quarter as the two teams went back and forth.
He later added three big foul shots in the final minute, as well, finishing the game with nine points.
If not for Peterson’s huge shot, the story of the game might have been Wilton’s Kyle Hyzy.
The sophomore forward only scored four points, but they were huge.
His first bucket came near the end of regulation when he hit a turn-around 15-footer to the game at 48-48, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Newtown was up 49- 48 when Hyzy hit a go-ahead hoop with 2:49 to play.
Kronenberg added another bucket from the elbow, giving Wilton a 3-point lead, but Peterson had the answer for Newtown shortly thereafter.
FROM THE NOTEBOOK
The game featured six lead changes and eight ties — five and six of which occurred in the second half, respectively. … Tallcouch is joined on the Newtown bench by former New Canaan coach Jeff Bessey, himself a longtime FCIAC coach who appeared many times at the Zeoli Field House. … The two teams combined for 17 3-pointers made in the game. … Wilton finishes the season 15-8.
NEWTOWN 57, WILTON 54 (OT)
Evan Eggleston 2 0-2 6, Nicholas Weiland 1 3-5 5, Robert Disibio 4 5-6 16, Todd Petersen 7 3-5 15, Riley Ward 3 3-4 9, Shea Talbot 0 0-0 0, Ryan Escoda 0 0-0 0, Tucker Gerrity 0 0-0 0, Totals 17 14-22 57
Antonio Brancato 5 4-7 15, Kyle Maatallah 3 1-2 9, Kyle Shifrin 2 0-0 4, Scott Cunningham 2 3-4 9, Kyle Hyzy 2 0-0 4, Kyle Phillips 1 0-0 3, Nick Kronenberg 4 0-0 10, Robbie Hermann 0 0-0 0, Ryan Schriber 0 0-0 0, Tucker Walden 0 0-0 0, Totals 19 -8 13 54
NEWTOWN 17 6 13 12 9–57
WILTON 10 10 17 11 6—54
3-pointers: N—Petersen 4, Disibio 3, Eggleston 2; W—Kronenberg 2, Cunningham 2, Maatallah 2, Brancato, Phillips.