Girls basketball: St. Joseph defeats Newtown Nighthawks

The St Joseph High girls basketball team bounced back from Tuesday’s season-opening loss to Pomperaug of Southbury on Thursday night. The Cadets applied what they learned in defeat for a turnaround effort en route to defeating host Newtown 48-33.

“Yesterday in practice we really focused on how do we win these types of games,” Cadet head coach Chris Lindwall said. “We knew they were going to come at us.”

The Cadets couldn’t hold an eight-point lead in a 41-31 loss to Pomperaug, and expected, and got, a battle with Newtown. The Nighthawks also erased an eight-point deficit, battling back from 16-8 down to tie the score in the second quarter, but never got over the hump against the Cadets.

St Joe’s scored the last four points of the first half, then pulled away in the third, doubling its opening-half total with a 20-point outburst in the third quarter. It took a 40-24 lead heading into the fourth.

The Nighthawks, who pride themselves on tough, turnover-causing defense, applied the anticipated pressure on the Cadets. Lindwall’s squad didn’t break, slicing its turnovers in half — they gave up the ball 31 times against Pomperaug and turned it over only 14 times against Newtown.

“We learned a lot from Tuesday night,” Lindwall said.

The Cadets received 13 points each from Jackie Jozefick and Megan Robertson, both of whom drained a trio of shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Long-range shooting was on for the locals throughout the evening.

Five more Cadets got into the scoring column. Ashley Lynch scored eight, Lauren Haveri had five points, Shannon Healey and Shannon Grabowski both dropped in four and Chelsea DosSantos added two.

St Joe’s scored the first points of the game and never trailed, but had to withstand Newtown’s first-half rally. Robertson had an offensive rebound and hit an off-balance shot as time expired at the end of the second quarter for a 20-16 Cadets lead.

The team’s late-half momentum seemed to spill over into the third quarter. After Jozefick scored down low for a six-point lead, Newtown got to within three on a shot from downtown, making it 22-19. But the Cadets answered with a 10-0 run capped by Lynch’s 3-pointer which came just after Jozefick denied Newtown standout Mali Klorczyk (team-high 10 points) a fast-break layup with a block.

“He always has his team well-disciplined,” Newtown head coach Jeremy O’Connell said of Lindwall. “They took us out of what we want to do and we couldn’t find ways to respond.”

After Newtown’s Haley Ryan ended the ten-point St Joe’s surge with a 3-pointer, Robertson hit back-to-back treys to extend the lead to 38-22 with just over two minutes remaining in the third. After a Newtown basket, Lynch beat the buzzer with an outside shot.

“The third quarter’s when we want to break away – do all we can,” Jozefick said of her team’s mentality coming out of the intermission. “It was a team effort — all of us contributed.”

The Cadets, coming off a state championship season, lost nine players to graduation.

“We’re a young team,” Lindwall noted. “We’ve got to grow up fast and we took a big step (tonight) against a very good team.”