MERIDEN — The undefeated season lives on for the Maloney boys basketball team as it won its fourth game of the season and second in less than 24 hours on Saturday afternoon.
This time, the Spartans took down the visiting Rocky Hill Terriers 47-34 in a CCC Region D matchup.
Despite the 13-point differential to end the game, it was a rocky start for the Spartans, who were right back in Benjamin Nessing Gymnasium after beating Newington 53-38 on Friday night.
“We talked about it last night; that was kind of our goal because we came out flat last night as well,” Maloney head coach Dave Parness said. “We have to find a way to come out of the gates. The coaching staff has to find a way. So if the kids can’t do it, it’s on us to figure it out.”
The Terriers took a commanding lead in the opening minutes, forcing multiple Spartan turnovers and not allowing a point for nearly five minutes.
Senior forward Garrison Kunst broke the dry spell, scoring Maloney’s first points with 3:20 left in the quarter.
It was evident from that point forward that the aforementioned scoring drought was over. The Spartans turned an 11-8 deficit into a 20-11 advantage quickly.
Furthermore, their defense stifled the Terriers. Rocky Hill called a timeout late in the first half down 27-12, and Maloney returned to the court in a full-court press defense.
“(It was) just the flow of the game,” Parness said of going to the press. “I guess (it) depends on who’s out there — score, time, situation and personnel kind of thing.”
Maloney’s defense was prominent in the second quarter, limiting Rocky Hill to just four points and ending the half with a 31-15 lead.
The stifling defense continued in the second half, but Maloney’s aggressive rebounding was what shut the doors. The Spartans had numerous offensive rebound opportunities, scoring multiple second-chance points throughout the game.
Kunst said that the team emphasizes offensive rebounding because shots aren’t always going to fall. That said, Parness noted it would be better if his players just made shots in the first place.
“It’s kind of a skewed number because a better play would be to make more shots, and then we wouldn’t have to get as many offensive rebounds” Parness said. “So the idea would be, ‘Well, we’ve got to find a way to shoot the ball.’”
Between their defense, rebounding and offensive output, the Spartans improved to 4-0 on the season. Nevertheless, Parness said there’s no extra pressure. Instead, he’s gearing up for a matchup against Middletown (3-0) on Monday on the road.
“Monday’s a big game. We got to show up Monday and play four quarters,” the Maloney coach said. “I think it’s just a mindset. I think we have the pieces. We just have to understand that if we come out flat against them, we’ll be down, we’ll be chasing 15 after the first quarter.”
Kunst, Vincent Martinez and Jeremiah Williams all finished with nine points Saturday. Tylee Flowers and Tijion Johnson added eight apiece.