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Wamogo upsets Nonnewaug on Albano's last second shot

POSTED February 11, 2012
BY Patrick Tiscia
Twitter: @PatrickTiscia

LITCHFIELD – Gregg Hunt was blunt when asked about his team’s season, describing Wamogo’s year up until two weeks ago as “very disappointing.”

Judging by the Warriors’ performance in the last five games (four wins), and Friday night in particular, you can see why Hunt had such high hopes for his team.

The Warriors, thanks to a floater in the lane from Spencer Albano with 12 seconds left, pulled off the Berkshire League upset of the season, defeating first place Nonnewaug, 43-42, at Wamogo High School.

The win improves Wamogo to 6-9, increasing its odds of a state tournament berth. Nonnewaug falls to 13-3 and is currently tied atop the BL with Northwestern, blowout winners over Lewis Mills Friday.

“We’ve put ourselves in position to reach the state tournament with this win,” Hunt said. “Our turnaround goes back to doing the little things in practice. We’re working just as hard as before, but differently. Our toughness is at another level.”

Wamogo’s toughness was on full display in the fourth after Nonnewaug, which trailed for the entire quarter, took its first lead of the period on a putback by Jake Pogodzienski with 22 seconds left.

Hunt called timeout and set up a play for an immediate drive instead of holding for the last shot because the Chiefs still had three fouls to give. Albano took the ball at the three-point line with 17 seconds remaining, went right to the basket and scored on a one-hand floater in heavily contested traffic for the game-winner.

“I knew I had to take it as soon as I got it,” said Albano, who finished with 13 points. “To make a shot like that against a first place team is a great feeling, definitely the biggest one I’ve ever made.”

Nonnewaug head coach Tim Drakeley told his players in the timeout to use its fouls, but they were unable to get to Albano on time.

“The refs let us play tonight, and they weren’t going to call any touch fouls,” Drakeley said. “(Fouling) was certainly our intent, but we weren’t able to do it.”

Pogodzienski’s desperation shot just inside the three-point line was blocked at the buzzer by Mark Csehak.

The Warriors were on the brink of getting blown out in the third quarter as they did not score for the first four minutes, which led to two Hunt timeouts, and trailed 27-19.

Mark Davis ended the skid with a coast-to-coast lay-up plus a foul off a steal. That play sparked an 18-4 run to end the quarter. Albano notched five points in the sequence and Nick Nemergut put the crowd into a frenzy with a banked-in three.

Nonnewaug used a full-court press on defense coming out of the half, which led to three quick Wamogo turnovers.

“We practice our press offense all the time and it was frustrating that we couldn’t execute there,” Hunt said. “Spencer hit a big basket (a three with 5:16 left to pull Wamogo within two) in the corner and I thought that helped us settle down.”

Ben Timme netted a game-high 20 points for the Chiefs, who go back to the drawing board next week against Terryville and Wilby. They will face Northwestern on the road in the second to last game of the season, a battle that may settle the BL crown.

“We have to be smarter on the court than we were tonight,” Drakeley said. “Hopefully, we’ll learn from this game.”

For Wamogo, it will need to secure two more wins to qualify for states. Friday night may go a long way.

“This was a huge win for the kids, especially considering how hard much effort they put into this,” Hunt said. “They were all smiling ear-to-ear after the game, realizing their hard work is paying off.”

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