NEWTOWN — The Newtown girls basketball team was unable to pass its first two tests against SWC contenders early this season. The third time turned out to be the charm Thursday night.
Led by a strong first half orchestrated by point guard Rylee Mulligan, the Nighthawks held off Kolbe Cathedral 51-41 to improve to 8-2.
After losing to Pomperaug and Bethel earlier this year, Newtown was out for a crucial win.
“This was a huge game for us,” said Mulligan, an all-league guard who missed most of the early season with an injury before returning two games ago. “We hope this is the start of our run; we always know Kolbe is a good team.”
— Ryan Lacey (@RyanLacey11) January 11, 2018
Newtown — which lived on the offensive glass — built a 21-lead in the second quarter, then watched as the Cougars roared back in the second half to pull to within six. A layup from Trinity Stackhouse made it 47-41 Newtown with four minutes left, but the Nighthawks responded with several stops before running out the rest of the clock to claim the win.
“In the first half we hit every shot and in the second we didn’t,” Newtown coach Jeremy O’Connell said. “Then we started to pull back a little bit and play a little nervous; we had a couple of buckets and free throws when we needed them.”
Kolbe yielded just 11 second-half points but left enough missed layups on the court to prevent the full rally. Junior point guard Gracen Kerr led the Cougars with 16 points.
“We didn’t say much at halftime and they knew what they needed to do,” Kolbe coach Lisa Hodges said. “We played with more effort, pushed the ball and got it into the right hands. We whittled it down, but it’s hard come back from a 20-point deficit at halftime.”
The return of Mulligan, who dished out one assist after another during the 40 point first half, may be the spark that sends the Nighthawks up the SWC ladder.
“The way she dictates everything for everyone is amazing for us,” O’Connell said.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Nicole DaPra, Newtown: The junior couldn’t miss in the first half, scoring 12 of her game-high 17 points in the first quarter.
“They are talented,” Hodges said. “I think they’re talented, I don’t know if they know it all the time, but I think they are.”
NEWTOWN 51, KOLBE CATHEDRAL 41
Beatriz Honario 2 5-7 9 Gracen Kerr 7 2-2 16 Aniyah Pettway 1 1-2 3 Trinity Stackhouse 2 0-2 4 Trinity Bravo 2 0-0 4 Brianna Meekins 2 1-2 5. Totals: 16 9-15 41.
Cailin Wilson 3 2-3 10 Carolina Stubbs 1 2-2 4 Cyleigh Wilson 2 0-0 5 Jackie Matthews 0 0-1 0 Nicki DaPra 7 1-2 17 Rylee Mulligan 1 3-3 5 Ali Kelleher 1 0-4 2 Kira Smith 1 0-0 2 Amy Sapenter 3 0-0 6 Totals: 18 8-15 51.
KOLBE7 13 13 8 — 41
NEWTOWN23 17 4 7 — 51
3-pointers: N—Cailin Wilson 2, Cyleigh Wilson, DaPra 2.