WINSTED >> Northwestern’s boys basketball team did everything right Tuesday night in a 66-48 win over Wolcott Tech in the first round of the Class M State Tournament at Northwestern High School.
The Highlanders (16-7), ranked 10th in the tournament, got 24 points from their two big guys inside (Ted Bremer and Stephen McGrath) and six three-pointers from four different people outside (Ricky Persechino, Tony Case, Zach Tuxbury and McGrath).
Best of all, they had a defensive handle on Wolcott Tech star Luke Pergola (9 points).
“They put (Johnny Lippincott) on Luke and took him out of the game early,” said Wolcott Tech coach Rene Williams.
“He’s a great player,” said Lippincott. “He has a great shot, great moves and he’s a lefty. I got a lot of help.”
“We tried to help Johnny as much as possible,” said Northwestern coach Doug Sebach, who came up with the Highlander defensive strategy.
“They played excellent help defense,” said Pergola, a senior who averaged 23 points a game while moving past the 1,000-point career mark in the Constitution State Conference. “Every time I tried to drive, there were two or three more guys in the lane.”
BRACKETS: CLASS M | SCHEDULE / RESULTS
The rest of the time, Lippincott or junior Aiden Tellier were in his face.
On offense and defense, a big size advantage from Bremer (11 points) and McGrath (game-high 13 points) was the icing on the Northwestern cake.
“In most games, I just want to control the boards and play good D,” said Bremer, a 6-foot-4 senior. “Any points I can get are a bonus.”
Bonuses came from everywhere.
“We tried to plug up the middle and they hit outside,” said Coach Williams. “Then we’d go outside and they were inside.”
It began immediately.
McGrath hit a three to outdo an outside shot by Wildcat Brandon Oakes in the opening minutes.
Pergola matched him from the corner for a 5-3 Wolcott Tech lead.
Then the Highlander advantages descended on the Wildcats like an avalanche on a mountain.
Lippincott (10 points) got to the foul line on a drive; Bremer, underneath for a layup; Persechino outside; Bremer in a three-point play on a put-back, then back outside for the final shot of an 11-0 run that dimmed the Tech lights already.
Down 16-5 with 3:37 left in the first period, the Wildcats made their running game work in a fast break finish by Asante Maldon.
More often, layups turned into hurried misses with Bremer and McGrath patrolling the paint.
A running game was welcome for Northwestern — McGrath on a fast break; Persechino (11 points, two 3s) with a steal and a full-court dash to the hoop, two minutes left in the period.
Tech’s Matt Dell’Agnese got ahead of the Highlander defense for a 20-9 fast break.
Highlander advantages reigned.
McGrath closed out the quarter with his own put-back, 22-9.
Tuxbury hit two threes in the second quarter, Persechino another.
Wolcott Tech kept running; the halftime score was 44-21.
The margin was permanently fixed.
“We got to play a lot of players,” said Coach Sebach.
Lippincott stayed on Pergola.
The score was 56-36 after three, a question of whether Northwestern would play Watertown or Waterford in Round 2.
No. 7 Waterford pulled it out 57-55.
“They’re big — 6-6; 6-5; 6-4,” said Coach Sebach.
Tuesday, the Highlanders looked like a match.
No. 10 Northwestern 66, No. 23 Wolcott Tech 48
At Northwestern High School
Wolcott Tech 9 12 15 12—48
Northwestern 22 22 12 10—66
Wolcott Tech (48): Luke Pergola 3-2-9; Matt Dell’Agnese 4-2-10; Asante Maldon 2-4-8; Jake Munson 3-3-9; Brandon Oakes 3-0-6; Tristan Sorenson 1-0-2; David Columbie 2-0-4; Totals: 18-11-48.
Northwestern (66): Ricky Persechino 4-1-11; Aiden Tellier 0-1-1; Tony Case 1-0-3; Alex Case 0-0-0; John Lippincott 4-2-10; Joe Lodovico 0-0-0; Will Scharnberg 2-0-4; Devin Warren 2-0-4; Zach Tuxbury 3-1-9; Ted Bremer 5-1-11; Steve McGrath 5-0-13; Totals: 27-6-66.
3-point goals: WT—Pergola. NW—Persechino 2; T. Case; Tuxbury 2; McGrath.
Records: Wolcott Tech 9-12; Northwestern 16-7.