The Cinderella run had ended for the Newtown boys basketball team, which had pulled off three seeded upsets en route to the CIAC Division II state semifinals.
But in head coach Tim Tallcouch’s mind, it was just the beginning.
“It was an emotional post-game talk about how ‘This is going to fuel you guys going through this type of run. It will only make us better,’” Tallcouch said. “Everybody coming back wanted to taste this some more.”
Publicly, Tallcouch made those same feelings after losing in last year’s semifinals.
“I’m really happy and pumped about Newtown basketball. It stinks that it ends right now, but this is the type of run that could only energize this program and the town of Newtown.” he told Hearst Connecticut Media following the Amity loss last March.
The Nighthawks believed and thus far, have performed quite well. They have won their first eight games, including their last two South-West Conference games after entering the top 10 for what is believed to be the first time ever.
Now, Newtown is the lone unbeaten among SWC teams. And as far as Tallcouch is concerned, the team deserves any accolades it earns.
“We’re not going to shy away from getting these types of kudos. These kids have worked hard,” Tallcouch said. “We are not the hunters anymore. I told the kids (from the beginning) that they would be hunted this year.”
Robert DiSibio, who scored 14 points in the loss to Amity last season, is one of the basketball-only players in the program. The 6-foot-3 senior forward was an All-SWC pick a season ago.
Two other seniors, center Todd Peterson and guard Tucker Garrity, have committed to Division I schools in other sports. Peterson will play baseball at UConn while Garrity will play lacrosse at Jacksonville.
Tallcouch called Riley Ward a “tough-as-nails point guard.” He inserted Jack Peterson, Todd’s younger brother, into the starting lineup against Capital Prep and Peterson has remained there ever since.
The SWC crowned three state champions last season: Notre Dame-Fairfield (Division I), Immaculate (II) and Kolbe Cathedral (IV). Newtown hosts Barlow Tuesday and Notre Dame on Friday night. Tallcouch said the game against Notre Dame “could be the biggest home game in my seven years at Newtown.”
But with plenty of great teams left on the schedule, including the other two reigning state champs and a non-conference showdown against Crosby, Newtown is going to have a tough road.
“The meat of our schedule is coming up,” Tallcouch said. “We are not running away from it, we’re not hiding from it. We believe in these kids. They have played some pretty good basketball and hopefully continue with that. There will be bumps in the road. It’s up to our leaders to help us navigate through them.”