ANSONIA – The Ansonia boys basketball team got the monkey of its back on Friday night with a 40-37 overtime win against Newton.
It was the second straight overtime game to start the season for the Tigers. They lost in the extra frame last week at Tri-Village.
“That is a huge win,” said Ansonia junior Hunter Buckingham, who drained four 3-pointers in the game including a huge one in the overtime period that put his team up by 4 points with 1:39 to play.
“We had some adversity coming into this game,” he continued. “Back-to-back overtime games to start the season is tough and they were two conference games too, so I think we really showed what we can do.”
Buckingham and the Tigers certainly did. He put his team ahead 6-0 in the first minutes of the game with a pair of 3-pointers, but then he went quiet on offense – as did some of the other Tigers’ shooters – until midway in the fourth quarter when he hit his third trey of the game to pull the Tigers within 3 points at 28-25.
“Buckingham took a lot of good shots,” said Ansonia’s first-year varsity head coach Devin Limburg. “Every shot he took I was happy with, but man he couldn’t buy one … until it mattered. He had the first two and then went quiet for a while. He is a great shooter so I told him to just keep shooting and they will fall.”
The Tigers (1-1 overall and 1-1 in the Cross County Conference) executed well in the first half taking a 16-7 lead into the break. But the Indians swung the game’s momentum in their favor with a 16-4 third quarter run that put them on top 23-20 heading into the final period. With 4:56 to play Newton’s Chet Jamison extended that lead to 28-22 after getting fouled on a 3-point shot attempt and nailing all three free throws.
But that is when Ansonia began to climb back into the game. Buckingham hit his third trey at the 3:40 mark and 20 seconds later Hunter Muir took a steal on the Newton end of the floor all the way in for a layup and the foul (he missed the free throw) to cut the Newton lead to one, 28-27.
As if the Ansonia defense wasn’t stifling enough for the Indians, it cracked down even harder in the final seconds of regulation forcing several Newton turnovers that led to Matthew Farrier getting to the free throw line where he hit the second of two shots to tie the game at 31-31 with less than 5 seconds left. Kleyson Wehrley got a shot off at the buzzer for the Indians, but the ball rimmed out and the game went to overtime.
In overtime, Muir got a layup right away for a 33-31 Ansonia lead. It was a lead the Tigers would not relinquish in sealing their first win of the season.
“There were a lot of emotions honestly,” said Muir, who along with Buckingham led the Tigers with 13 points each. “We were up and down, couldn’t really make open shots that we normally would make. Buckingham missed a couple of good open threes and I missed a couple of layups I should have finished, and we couldn’t make any free throws. That has been a topic for both games so far, but we fought. It was a big step up for us tonight.
“Like the coaches said that was the best we have played man defense in four years,” he continued. “That was how we were able to keep the game so close. If we win I don’t care how low the score is. It is a relief to get that first win. Once you get the first one then they start rolling. It breaks the ice.”
For Limburg, it was also his first win as a varsity head coach.
“It feels awesome to get win No. 1 and to do it at home is even sweeter,” Limburg said. “The fans were so supportive and they were into the game. It was a great atmosphere tonight and it was a good team win.
“We stuck to the game plan,” he continued. “We moved the ball well and we played defense. I told them that is the best defense I’ve seen in four years. We needed to keep this one low scoring since the shots weren’t falling. We lost some guys last year that did a lot of scoring so now we have to play on the defensive end and keep it low and just grind them out.”
In addition to 13 points each from Buckingham and Muir, Matthew Shook had 6 points with Farrier and Andrew Rowland contributing 3 points apiece and Isaac Barga had 2 points. For Newton, Jamison was the leading scorer with 11 points followed by Alex Koon with 8 points, Ryan Mollette with 7 points, Charlie Walker with 5 points, Andrew Whittaker with 3 points, Wehrley with 2 points and Mitchell Montgomery with 1 point.
Ansonia gets back on the court against Houston on Saturday, while Newton, which falls to 1-2 overall and 0-2 in the CCC, will host Tri-Village on Tuesday.
Score by quarters
Newton – Ryan Mollette 2 3 7, Andrew Whittaker 1 0 3, Chet Jamison 3 4 11, Charlie Walker 2 0 5, Mitchell Montgomery 0 1 1, Kleyson Wehrley 1 0 2, Alex Koon 3 2 8. Totals: 12 10 37.
Ansonia – Matt Farrier 0 3 3, Hunter Buckingham 4 1 13, Isaac Barga 0 2 2, Matthew Shook 3 0 6, Hunter Muir 3 7 13, Andrew Rowland 1 1 3. Totals: 11 14 40.
3-pointers – Newton 3 (Whittaker, Jamison, Walker), Ansonia 4 (Buckingham 4).
Records: Newton (1-2 overall, 0-2 CCC), Ansonia (1-1 overall, 1-1 CCC)