LITCHFIELD — Defense was the biggest player in a 53-40 boys basketball Wamogo win over Nonnewaug at the top of the Berkshire League Tuesday night at Wamogo High School.
The Warriors stood at the top with just one league loss on a seven-game streak. The Chiefs, with a six-game league winning streak of their own, were right behind with two BL losses.
Nonnewaug coach Devonne Parker came in claiming the best defense in the league. Defending league champion Wamogo is notorious for a wicked defense of its own.
Wamogo edged in front of the argument in the first half, leading the struggle 24-20 while offensive leaders for both teams — Nonnewaug’s Jon Khazzaka and Wamogo’s Ethan Collins — were held to two and three points for the half while Nonnewaug center Anthony Bambino led the Chiefs underneath with six points and Cole Higgins had eight for the Warriors.
Khazzaka, counted on for double figures in almost every previous game, stayed right there for the rest of the game thanks to Wamogo defensive star Ben Roy.
“Khazzaka is one of the top players in the league,” said Wamogo coach Gregg Hunt. “Ben just shut him down.”
Meanwhile, nothing throws chaos at an entire team like Wamogo’s trapping, swarming press, on display for the entire second half.
Higgins started the third period with a three from the corner. Wamogo closed out the period on a 9-0 run with Collins coming alive for four points and Matt Mazzarelli finishing it off with a trey.
“I was missing easy shots in the first half,” said Collins, who scored 10 of his game-high 13 points in the second half, feeding in part on the press. “We just kept being aggressive and just focus. We like to be relentless and over the course of four quarters, it wears the other team down.”
“The press is the key to our defense this year,” said Coach Hunt.
The Warriors led 36-29 at the end of the third quarter, then kept the Chiefs in a nightmare for a 17-11 fourth, featuring 6-for-9 shooting from the foul line by Charlie Coffey (11 points, 4 steals), Roy (9 rebounds) and Collins, with six more points.
The Warriors now stand two games ahead in a tight pack of followers while the Chiefs drop back to a three-way tie for second with Terryville and Shepaug.