NEW HAVEN — With the boys basketball season starting a week later than last year, plenty of clubs are still working out the kinks as we turn for the new decade.
Kolbe Cathedral coach John Pfohl said it himself. “We are still a work in progress,” he said.
But the Cougars were still good enough on the defensive end of the floor to pick up their first win, 45-33 over Amistad in the opener of the fifth annual Saulsbury Invitational.
“We looked like a team that has practiced for 2 1/2 weeks and needs more work,” Amistad coach Ryan Ott said. The Wolves reached the CIAC Division III state final last season. “That’s probably true for most teams. We have lot of new pieces we are mixing in.”
Daniel Wellington led Kolbe with 17 points, the only player in double figures for the Cougars.
Amistad missed its first 10 shots of the third quarter. The Wolves made just three field goals in the entire second half.
“I thought we played great defensively most of the game,” Pfohl said. “They took advantage of our four or five of those defensive lapses in the first half and hit threes. In the second half, they didn’t quite as many looks at it. So from a defensive perspective, I’m really pleased.”
A 10-0 run gave the Cougars a 20-8 lead early in the second quarter. Amistad answered back with a 10-2 run.
Blackwell had 17 points in the first half. Both teams shot above 50 percent from the floor in the second quarter. Amistad was 8 for 11 and Kolbe was 7 for 12.
Kolbe (1-2) held Amistad (1-2) to just eight points in the second half. Eli Blackwell had five of those points and a game-high 20 for the Wolves.
“We didn’t help off of (Blackwell) at all in the second half. That kind of disrupted him,” Pfohl said. “Offensively, we are a work in progress. But if you give up 33 points, you should win games.”
Said Ott: “Offensively, just sloppy, lots of turnovers. … I believe if we improve every day in the gym and building day by day, we have the potential in terms of veterans and newcomers, to put the pieces together and to be a really strong team in the second half of the season.”
The Cougars, who played Trinity Catholic and St. Joseph in its first two games, helped the Wolves miss their first 10 shots of the second half.
“I like my kids’ effort, I love their energy, we made some bad decisions here and there, but those are the things we need to get better at,” Pfohl said.
West Haven 65, Career 63: Tyrese Hargrove and and Malcolm Duncanson had 14 and 12 points, respectively, for West Haven, which held off Career despite missing nine free throws in the fourth quarter.
“That made the game harder than it needed to be,” West Haven coach Tyrese Sullivan said. “Always happy about a win, way we won no, not happy, thought we made a few silly plays down the stretch.”
The game was tied at 43 heading into the fourth quarter. A 16-7 run gave the Westies (2-1) some breathing room.
West Haven led 63-55 with under a minute left, but missed several free throws. Jose Guzman-Ortiz hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the last with a eight-tenths of a second remaining,to make it 65-63. West Haven was fouled with no time showing on the clock — but it’s the horn that signifies the game being over.
The Westies missed another free throw, but there wasn’t nearly enough time for the Panthers (0-3) to get a shot off. West Haven shot 13 of 30 from the line overall.
“We didn’t execute down the stretch. I’ll take the responsibility for that as the coach,” Sullivan said. “I have to prepare them better and we need to keep our continuity. That’s on me.”
Saveeon Avery and Damon Williams both had 19 points while Guzman-Ortiz added 16 to lead Career.
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) December 28, 2019
Wilbur Cross 72, Weaver 46: Jacari Douglas and Jarel Delgado had 17 and 16 points, respectively, for Wilbur Cross, which turned the non-conference game into a rout before halftime.
Cross (2-0) held Weaver to just six points in the second quarter, hitting the Beavers with a 19-4 run. The Governors led 37-15 at halftime.
“When we went to went to Allen (Myers), Delgado and Jacari (all off the bench), that changed the complexion of the game,” Wilbur Cross coach Kevin Walton said.
Dashon Gittens finished with a game-high 21 points for Weaver. But he just scored two points in the first half.
“We knew we had to limit his touches. He is a good player,” Walton said about Gittens. “We had a little more of a defensive effort that sparked us tonight. Our man-to-man has always been our bread and butter defense, but the matchup zone has been working well for us.”
Javon Taylor added 13 points for Cross.
The Beavers (0-3) led 9-8 after a 3-pointer by Armani Anderson. Then the Governors closed out the first quarter on a 10-0 run, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers by Delgado.