Throughout the town of Newton Connecticut’s gradual healing following the horrific incidents of December 14, sports have played a major role. Professional teams from both New York and Boston have visited the town and put on clinics. Individual professional athletes have stepped forward in touching ways (none more so than Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz).
Yet nothing has provided as strong a rallying cry as the performance of the town’s high school teams themselves. First, the Newtown boys basketball team hit an inspiring buzzer beater to win their senior night game. Now, the same team has landed one of the most remarkable upsets in recent Connecticut state tournament history, if not since the likes of Hickory High itself.
As reported by the Danbury News Times and Associated Press, Newtown’s boys basketball team entered the state tournament with the No. 29 seed in the Class LL tournament. As one might expect, the Nighthawks were enormous underdogs against Waterbury (Ct.) Crosby High, the No. 4 overall seed in the classification.
Yet rather than wilt and fade into the night, the Nighthawks thrived, pulling out a 61-58 victory behind star Connor Quinn’s 14 points.
The victory improved Newtown’s record to just 9-13 on the season, a far cry from the one-loss record sported by Crosby when it entered what would become its final game of the season as the No. 2 ranked team in the entire state.
According to Newtown boys basketball coach Tim Tallcouch, the Nighthawks stunning upset was inspired by the town itself, with the players taking resolve and confidence from the knowledge that an upset would give the town another positive thing to talk about.
“It’s been a tough three months for everybody here in Newtown and as much as we want to win for ourselves, we want to win for the town itself,” Tallcouch told New York news radio station WCBS 880. “Last night, we felt like Cinderella. Hopefully, it doesn’t strike midnight anytime soon.”
For the sake of Newtown, and perhaps for Connecticut basketball itself, many will hope that the Nighthawks’ playoff journey continues at pace just as much as Tallcouch and his charges do themselves.