LITCHFIELD – A day after it capped an improbable second half of its regular season, the Nonnewaug boys basketball team fell to Wamogo 61-46 in the quarterfinals of the Berkshire League tournament.
The loss came less than 24 hours after the Chiefs upset Litchfield on senior night to clinch a berth in the upcoming CIAC Division IV tournament. Nonnewaug needed to win 4 of its last 5 games to finish 8-12 and earn a spot in the bracket.
“We were really proud (Friday night), but we made it a big point in the locker room that we get to bed early, focus on the next game,” Nonnewaug senior co-captain Peter Rickenbach said. “Wamogo is a good team. It was more about us needing to fix a few things in the end.”
It was clearly third-seeded Wamogo’s day from the start. The Warriors led 15-6 after one quarter and 27-16 at the half.
Nonnewaug did cut Wamogo’s lead to 37-32 after a three-pointer by senior co-captain Ryan Cleary with 1:26 left to play in the third, but that’s as close as the Chiefs got.
“(Garrett Sattazahn) is a great player,” Nonnewaug head coach Devonne Parker said of the Wamogo junior forward, who had a game-high 19 points after being shut out in the first quarter. “By far, he’s the best player in the league.”
Jarrett Michaels led Nonnewaug with 15 points and J.D. Gengenbach scored 14. Rickenback added 10.
“You can say we were all a little tired, because we all gave it 110% (Friday night) to try and win that game,” Cleary said. “It’s still no excuse for our play today. We could have played better than we did.”
It was the return of Cleary that helped spark the Chiefs’ run. Cleary missed the first six games of the season with a broken arm. With Cleary back in the lineup, Nonnewaug was 8-6.
Of course, Nonnewaug also struggled at the beginning of the season as the team tried to adjust to its new head coach, Parker, and the style of play he brought to the school.
“I’m proud of how they adapted to the system, I’m proud of how they all came together as a team and put some collective wins in,” Parker said. “We had a lot of ups, and I think we had more positives than negatives.”
While the loss to Wamogo could be a negative, Parker is focusing on the positive. Parker now has a week to prepare for the Chiefs’ CIAC Division IV opening-round game against fifth-seeded Kolbe-Cathedral.
While Parker is well aware of Kolbe-Cathedral, a perennial South-West Conference juggernaut, Cleary said he isn’t concerned about who Nonnewaug plays.
“I’m not really worried about who we’re playing,” Cleary said. “A game is a game, no matter who we’re playing. I’m going to try to make up for not playing that well today.”