TERRYVILLE — Nonnewaug held its spot in a tight Berkshire League boys basketball race in a 58-47 tester against Terryville Monday night at Terryville High School.
The Chiefs (9-5; 8-3 BL) came in tied for second place with Shepaug, two games behind league leader Wamogo, needing help from a battering BL lineup after their second loss to the Warriors last Wednesday.
Terryville (7-5; 6-5 BL), the only league team with a win over Wamogo this season, licked its chops with the chance to drag the Chiefs down to the Kangaroos’ level, three games behind.
For the first half Monday, Nonnewaug wanted no part of that possibility, running out to an 18-11 lead after the first quarter with even scoring from five different players and domination on the backboards.
The Kangaroos narrowed the margin in the second quarter with eight of Dylan Matulis’ 11 points for the night, but Nonnewaug’s Tyler Lindberg also made it his quarter with six of his eight points and game-high scorer Jon Khazzaka (21 points) kept up his steady stream for a 31-23 Nonnewaug lead at the half.
Kangaroo coach Mark Fowler changed Terryville’s view in the halftime locker room. In the first half, speedy, athletic Terryville players took Nonnewaug’s collapsing zone as individual challenges, trying to drive through two and three Chiefs.
“We left a lot behind that way,” said Fowler, referring to forced misses and hurried layups refusing to fall.
“Against a zone, you need lots of passes,” he told his team. “When you do that, you score; when you don’t, you don’t.”
Everything but the uniforms changed for Terryville in the third quarter. Suddenly, individual drives got kicked back out to an open teammate. Team energy wasted on an out-of-control offense in the first half switched over to a monster press on defense and regular rebounding scraps.
Nonnewaug’s Khazzaka nailed a foul line jumper at the start of the period, but the Chiefs didn’t score again for six minutes as the Kangaroos went on a 10-0 tear with assists on every basket until Matulis’ third trey tied the score 33-33 with 2:06 left in the period and Dominick Dao completed a 6-point string of layups.
“Our seniors stayed calm,” said Nonnewaug coach Rich Feraci, but Khazzaka, a junior, was the immediate antidote with two straight hoops to regain the lead.
Senior Jackson (13 points) came right behind with three threes to put the cork back into the Nonnewaug bottle.
His first hiked the Chiefs’ lead back to 40-35 at the end of the period. Senior Ethan Cieslieski drove to the hoop keep the lead at 42-39. Khazzaka had the next six points on a three and 3-for-4 shooting from the line
Baker put the win in the books for good with two more back-to-back threes.
“We came back to playing team defense and team offense,” Feraci said.
The Chiefs will cheer for Shepaug in a match-up with Wamogo next Tuesday. Terryville gets another shot at the Warriors the following Friday.