DANBURY — Immaculate was perfect against SWC opponents this year, boasting a 12-0 record in the regular season.
With a trip to the SWC tournament final on the line, Immaculate knew the road wouldn’t be too easy with rival Newtown standing in the way.
When the two teams met a month ago in the regular season, Immaculate walked away with a one-point victory, the closest conference game it had played.
“We knew it was going to be a game,” Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos said. “Newtown is very good. They have great bigs, great guards who can shoot the ball. We knew they weren’t going to just hand it to us, it was going to be a battle.”
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After a sluggish start, Immaculate overcame an early deficit behind three double-digit point scorers for a 55-48 win and its third straight SWC finals appearance.
The Mustangs will face Kolbe Cathedral in Thursday’s 7 p.m. championship at Masuk in Monroe. The Courgars beat Joel Barlow 48-42 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Immaculate will be looking to win its first SWC Championship since 2012. It lost last year’s final to Bunnell on a buzzer-beater by Maximus Edwards.
Sebastian Parenti led the Mustangs with 15 points while Joey Rios and freshman Mike Ianetta each scored 12.
“Within the five or six guys we play, any given night anybody can be the guy,” Mingachos said. “None of them care who the guy is, which makes it a lot of fun this year in the sense of they couldn’t care less who scores.
“They just want the win and they wanted an opportunity to play for a SWC championship again. They did everything that I’ve asked of them to this point so hopefully we’ve got one more in us and we can find a way to bring it home.”
Midway through the second quarter Immaculate found itself trailing 26-16 before the Parenti show began.
With the assistance of three 3-point shots by Parenti, Immaculate proceeded to finish the half on a 14-2 run, taking a 30-28 lead into the locker room.
“That was huge,” Parenti said. “That really just brought us back as a team, and our defense locked it in. I was able to get the ball in the wing off the miss and I was able to hit. It’s definitely a good feeling.”
Immaculate looked like a new team when it took the floor in the second half, tightening up its defense and going on nine-point run in the third quarter to create separation at 45-40.
“We talked about it at half, Sebastian coming down hitting those big 3s,” Mingachos said. “Being down by 10 to Newtown in the second quarter, yes we had a lot of time to go, but our defense wasn’t really good to that point. (Parenti) is that kind of kid, out of nowhere he can get you right back into a game and that’s pretty special.”
The defense continued to hold up in the final quarter as Immaculate kept the deficit to no less than four points in the final five minutes.
For Newtown, the focus now turns to the state tournament.
“I thought we came out with a great purpose tonight,” Newtown coach Tim Tallcouch said. “Kids were ready, we were determined to not allow them to get out early because that would fuel them and it wouldn’t be a close game.
“’m proud of my kids and I hope we can put this behind us and get ready for the state tournament, but I’m going to say this, if you want to be the best then you have to go through one of the best programs in the SWC. Immaculate along with Nelson Mingachos and his staff has been that mark that you need to get over if you want to be a champ.”
IMMACULATE 55, NEWTOWN 48
Riley Ward 2 2-2 7; Jack Petersen 7 1-2 17; Jack Kuligowski 3 0-0 8; Jack Mulligan 3 0-0 7; Tyson Mobley 3 0-0 7; Isaiah Williams 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 3-4 48
Diego Echavaria 2 3-4 7; Sean Guiry 4 0-2 8; Joey Rios 3 6-9 12; Sebastian Parenti 6 1-1 15; Mike Ianetta 3 5-5 12. Totals 18 15-21 55
NEWTOWN 13 17 15 10—55
IMMACULATE 9 18 6 12—48
3-point field goals: N—Ward, Petersen 2, Kuligowski 2, Mulligan, Mobley; I—Parenti 3, Ianetta.