SOUTHINGTON — Southington boys basketball is having a strong campaign under first-year coach Ed Quick. But Southington had no answer for Platt’s dynamic duo of Anthony Nimani and Makhai Anderson on Tuesday night as the Panthers emerged with a 81-52 CCC crossover win.
Platt improved to 12-2 on the season with its eighth conquest in a row, this one in front of a large crowd at the Southington High School gymnasium.
Nimani led all scorers with 24 points despite being face-guarded all game.
“This was a big win, a big statement win,” Nimani said. “We were prepared for this and, hopefully, we can continue to make some noise and be a Top 10 team.”
Anderson had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. All but four of Anderson’s points came in the first half.
Southington (9-4) was paced in scoring by Aidan Buck (18 points) and Ryan Hammarlund (14).
Tuesday’s loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Knights. It was also Southington’s first home defeat this season after opening the campaign 5-0 at home.
Southington closed within 12 early in the fourth quarter, but Platt ended the game on a 20-3 run.
Platt held a 47-26 lead at the half after a 28-11 second quarter as the Panthers were getting contributions from up and down the roster. In the first half, seven players reached the scoring column for the Panthers.
They were led by Anderson, the junior big man, who ended the half by driving down the lane and emphatically putting down a one-handed slam to cap a 14-0 Platt run.
“We were looking forward to this one,” Anderson said. “We had to be prepared for this game; we were hoping to wear them down in the second half.
“We’re happy to be on this winning streak,” Anderson added. “It was a big crowd here tonight. We aren’t satisfied; we are trying to make it to Mohegan (for the state finals).”
Hammarlund counted with a layup in the closing seconds for Southington, but Platt led by 21 at the half.
Southington was hot midway through the first quarter as Buck scored the Blue Knights’ first 11 points of the game behind three 3-pointers.
The Blue Knights led 11-10 in the middle of the first quarter before Platt outscored them 37-15 for the final 12 minutes of the first half. Anderson had five points in a 6-0 spurt as Platt went up 16-11 heading into the final minute of the opening quarter.
Hammarlund canned a trey and went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe as Southington looked to get out of the quarter trailing 16-15. However, Platt’s Deante Torres had other ideas. He rushed down the court and swished a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to put the Panthers up 19-15.
Platt rode that momentum into the second quarter as the 3-pointers started to rain down. Isaiah Summers (8 points) hit one midway through the quarter and Justin Black followed with back-to-back trreys as the Panther lead stretched into double digits.
Black’s second 3-ball, assisted by Anderson, spawned the 14-0 run that put the Platt lead up to as many as 23 in the first half.
Southington cut into the Platt lead and trailed 61-47 after three quarters. The Blue Knights started the third on an 11-4 spurt as Luke Penna hit two early buckets in the quarter and Hammarlund followed with a two consecutive layups, the second after a mid-court steal.
Southington had a trio of 3’s in the third quarter provided by Buck, Dan McGetrick and Carson Lentini (7 points).
Lentini also scored the first bucket of the fourth quarter on a steal from under the Platt hoop as Southington drew to 61-49 with 6:35 left in the game.
“The third quarter we fell asleep a little bit and I want us to play four high-intensity quarters,” Platt coach Shawon Moncrief said. “The guys played well, but I want perfect.”
Following a timeout, Platt responded with an 11-0 run to go up 72-49 and put the game away. Summers had five points in that spurt and Nimani had four.
“Summers is someone who we know is very capable and I’m happy he showed it tonight,” Moncrief said. “This is what he does in practice and I’m glad he showed it on this stage here. He’s a long and versatile player.”
Nimani credited the final decisive run of the game to defense.
“We were slacking early on, but we picked up our defense in the second half,” he said.
Southington was hurt by turnovers throughout the game. The Knights had 25 on the night.
“We had 25 turnovers and 15 in the first half, and as a coaching staff we will get better,” Quick said. “Their speed caught us early. You prepare for them and we had great practices, but Platt is really talented. Nimani is very talented and unselfish.
“When guys on the perimeter are hitting shots it’s tough because you can’t guard everyone.”
Quick said his team will grow from Tuesday’s loss and will be a tough team to beat come tournament time.
“I couldn’t be happier with my first year at Southington and the support I get from the Southington athletic department and (AD) Steve Risser,” Quick said. “The kids are awesome. I love being in the gym every day together. Every day is a chance to get better. Even tonight’s loss: It’s a part of it and you move on and you learn from it.
“We are about accountability. We are 9-4, but it’s not indicative of how hard we are going to be able to play against in a month.”