COVINGTON — The Ansonia and Franklin Monroe varsity boys basketball teams both left Covington Monday with lots of questions left to answer for the upcoming season.
Ansonia and Franklin Monroe played in a summer league basketball tournament on Monday in Covington with both squads losing their first games.
“It’s summer time,” Ansonia boys basketball coach Darrick Barga said. “It’s time to get better. (We) just look forward to continuing improving.”
Ansonia faced off against Bethel in the Tigers’ opening round game.
Ansonia started off well with a 7-0 run to begin the game and an 11-8 halftime lead.
“Our first 10 minutes I thought we played the best the entire summer that I’ve seen us play,” Barga said. “We played defense; we moved; we kept them out of the paint.”
But in the second half Bethel ramped up its defensive pressure and double teamed Ansonia’s ball handlers, which led to numerous turnovers as the Bees outscored the Tigers 23-10 in the second half for a 31-21 Bethel win.
“We were just throwing the ball all over the place,” Barga said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys, but we’ve got to be able to handle the ball better, do the fundamental things of using pass fakes and different things against the press.”
Franklin Monroe faced Covington in the opening round and never led in the game. Covington scored the first six points of the contest and built a 21-10 halftime lead. The Buccs’ lead grew to as many as 18 points in the second half as they won 41-30 against the Jets.
“We struggled,” Franklin Monroe boys basketball coach Troy Myers said. “It was a tough one for us. We’ve got two of our leaders (Marcus Horner and Martin Maksvytis) out. But, like I said before, June and July are the time to find some of your leadership, some of your toughness. And with two guys out, you’re looking for that, and I didn’t find it tonight.”
Franklin Monroe has a key stretch coming up this weekend with the Jets’ team camp. That will be a big opportunity for players to step up and earn some playing time for the upcoming season, Myers said.
“Like we just talked, we’ve got this team camp coming up this weekend, and if we don’t get it, then we’ve got some serious issues,” he said. “But we’ve got three days to try to get it right, try to find our toughness, try to find our identity, and hopefully we’ll make it happen.”
Franklin Monroe is coming off an 11-1 record in the Cross County Conference as they shared the league title with Tri-Village this past season. Ansonia went 1-11 in the CCC last year, winning two games overall, and is trying to get its program turned around.
“It’s a question mark, really, how we’re looking,” Barga said. “There’s a lot of question marks because the culture of the program is in a bad state where we’re just kind of coming in, there’s really no expectations of anything. We’ve got some younger kids that want to change that, and that’s good; that’s what it takes.”
With the regular season still several months away, both programs have some time to try to find the next group of key contributors.
“In a long season, three or four months, eventually you’re going to have to play a seventh and an eighth man at sometime,” Myers said. “We’re trying to find that, honestly. We’re trying to find five first. But we’re also trying to find some guys that can play some minutes. We’re very inexperienced right now. But I look forward to the challenge obviously. It’s a challenge that I think we can overcome.”