TORRINGTON — It was worth the wait for a double-overtime interleague thriller between Newtown and Torrington Monday afternoon, delayed by Saturday’s snow.
The South West Conference’s Nighthawks plowed through double-digit first-half deficits for a 78-73 victory in the second overtime as Riley Ward and Jack Petersen combined for 16 of Newtown’s 18 points in the second overtime to push home the win.
“This team thrives with its back to the wall,” said Coach Tim Tallcouch. “They understand what they have to do. It’s leadership and energy.”
The NVL’s Torrington, with several key players out sick, came with all the first-half energy, building a 15-5 lead in the first five minutes behind a nine-point spree from T.J. Calabrese (game-high 28 points), but the Nighthawks played even in the second and third quarters, then found its energy on defense in the fourth.
“When the three’s start falling, it energizes us,” said Ward, with a team-high 19 points and two of Newtown’s 10 three-pointers.
“Once we get it going, we’re good,” said Petersen (17 points).
Starting the fourth quarter down 44-36, Liam O’Connell set the tone for Newtown’s comeback with an opening trey, followed by a steal and a layup by Isaiah Williams (14 points) on a great feed from freshman Tyson Mobley.
With two minutes left in regulation, a three from Mobley ripped the Nighthawks into their first lead of the night, 51-49.
Calabrese fought for the next four points at the foul line, but Williams tipped a layup for the 53-53 tie sending it into the first overtime.
Ward and Torrington’s Charlie Mathieu (11 points, three 3s) traded 3’s; Brian Ballesteros (13 points) and Mohamed Traore (12 points) scored for Torrington; but Petersen began his OT mission with four points, sending it to another deadlock at 60-60.
Kicked into high gear in the second overtime, Petersen followed a three-point play by Calabrese with a three, a steal and a coast-to-coast sprint for the lead. Williams followed with a layup from Ward.
Leading 67-66 with two minutes left, the game’s energy shifted to Newtown for good, with a Petersen drive, Nighthawk steal and Ward fast break.
At 73-66, 1:14 left, the game went to the foul line for Newtown. Ward made six straight free throws to finally put the game away.
“We’re learning the hard way,” said Torrington coach Eric Gamari, with an all-new starting lineup this season, even with his missing players. “We’ve done a great job building in the second and third quarters of games. In the fourth quarter, we just stop.”
Nevertheless, Monday, it took two overtimes for the Red Raider brakes to finally take hold.