NEWINGTON — Maloney lived up to its basketball legacy, perhaps even enriched it, but Jared Simmons and his mates are carving out a beauty at Newington.
The Spartans, despite a mediocre regular season, made the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season, but the onslaught that Simmons authored precluded any notion of going further.
Simmons scored 17 of his 30 points in the decisive second quarter Friday as No. 2 Newington broke away to a 71-45 win over the 23rd-seeded Spartans in a Class L quarterfinal between two familiar CCC foes at a jam-packed Richard E. Rogalski Gym.
Newington (24-1) advances to play No. 3 Middletown in a semifinal Tuesday at a site and time yet to be determined.
Simmons, who torched Maloney (12-12) for 56 points in two regular-season games, dropped in four triples, including a devastating shot from deep in the corner as time ran out in the second quarter. The Indians expanded a three-point lead after one to 39-24 at the half.
The Maloney defense held the explosive Indians without a field goal for nearly eight minutes between the third and fourth quarters, but the Spartans never got closer than nine. The Spartans’ top scorers on the season — Jaron Cogdell and Trayon Rumley — were kept under control.
“Other guys were made to score and we needed them to score,” Maloney coach Howie Hewitt said. “It’s not a knock on them, but when you’re not used to scoring, it’s not like you’re going to go out there and get 20. It’s a strategy. A kid isn’t used to getting 15 when he only gets four. It’s not their mentality. It’s not their fault. It’s probably mine.
“The kids played tough. They didn’t give in. It’s always a tough way to end, but is losing by one at the buzzer better? I don’t think so. I’m proud of the kids and I’m happy for them.”
Colton Altmannsberger and Cogdell shared the team lead with 12 points each, and Cogdell was a terror on the boards with 15 rebounds, but Rumley was held to four after averaging nearly 24 in the first three postseason games.
The defensive-oriented first quarter was to Maloney’s liking. Newington never had more than a one-possession lead and Simmons drew his second foul with 2:50 to go.
Cogdell pounded the boards for five rebounds and Altmannsberger nailed a trey. The Indians still led, 10-7, after the first eight minutes.
Simmons exploded in the second, but Newington coach Scot Wenzel reinforced Hewitt’s point: Defense was tantamount in turning the game the Indians’ way.
“What we were able to do defensively was Zach Tinkham on Rumley,” said Wenzel, a Berlin High grad and a member of the school’s Hall of Fame. “He’s a great player and Tinkham did a great job defending him all night. Hats off to Zach for stepping up to the challenge.”
The Spartans’ offense never lapsed — they shot over 50 percent from the field in the quarter — but couldn’t match the sheer firepower of Simmons. The Indians led, 39-24, at intermission.
“[Simmons] is such an explosive player,” Wenzel said. “You talk about big-time players stepping up in big games, he really stepped up for us tonight.”
Newington made six of its 10 threes and 15 of 33 (45.4 percent) from the floor in the half.
Maloney held Newington to three free throws over the final five minutes of the third quarter. Altmannsberger drilled two triples and Jeff Massicotte added another off a feed from Danny Staton, yet the Spartans never closed to within 12.
A Cogdell layup off a delivery from Alejandro Ortiz cut the lead to 48-39 with 7:18 left in the game, but Simmons and 6-foot-4 junior Nick Guadarrama ignited a 16-6 run that grew the lead to over 20.
“We fell asleep on them a few times,” Altmannsberger said. “We had the intensity coming in but we wore ourselves out too fast.”
The season had set on the Spartans, but Altmannsberger, even in the gloom of defeat, was able to recognize that the season added to the great Maloney hoop legacy.
“Coming out of our regular season, I think we did pretty good in states,” he said. “Being the 23rd seed and going to the quarterfinals, I think we made our mark.”
CIAC CLASS L TOURNAMENT
NEWINGTON 71, MALONEY 45
NO. 23 MALONEY (45)
Trayon Rumley 2 0-2 4, Jaron Cogdell 6 0-4 12, Jeff Massicotte 2 0-0 5, Keni Strothers 0 1-2 1, Alejandro Ortiz 4 0-0 9, Colton Altmannsberger 4 1-2 12, Daniel Staton 1 0-0 2, Jose Acosta 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 2-10 45.
no. 2 newington (71)
Jared Simmons 11 3-6 30, Zach Tinkham 0 0-0 0, Connor Buckley 2 2-2 7, Pablo Ortiz 3 1-2 7, Nick Guadarrama 8 1-2 18, Dante Phillip 1 2-4 4, Brett Frank 0 2-4 2, Andres Ithier-Vicente 0 1-2 1. Totals: 25 12-21 71.
Maloney 07 17 13 08 — 45
Newington 10 29 09 23 — 71
3-Point Goals—M: 5 (Altmannsberger 3, Ortiz, Massicotte); N: 7 (Simmons 5, Buckley, Guadarrama). Team Records—M: 12-12; N: 24-1.
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