Simsbury wins in final seconds

Simsbury senior guard Nate Medve drove for a layup with 15 seconds remaining, thwarting a furious Newington second-half comeback and enabling the Trojans to escape with a 62-61 victory in boys basketball action Thursday night in Simsbury.

Medve’s winning shot came moments after a steal and basket  by Edwin Gomez had completed the Indians’ rally from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit, providing Newington its only lead of the night with 42 seconds to play.

Simsbury coach Greg Stillman admitted he was a tad nervous about seeing Medve drive the lane, as the Trojans had been whistled for four charging fouls during the contest.

“We’ve played Newington enough to know that they step in and take charges,” he said. “I still wanted our guys taking it to the basket, and fortunately Nate was able to slide by the defender and make that basket.”

For the majority of the game, it appeared Simsbury would prevail in a runaway. The Trojans utilized an early 8-0 run to grab a 15-8 advantage after one quarter, then sophomore forward Walter Whyte scored eight points in the second quarter to guide his team to a 32-24 lead at intermission.

Newington emerged with a pressure defense after the break, forcing Simsbury into some turnovers. The Indians recorded the first seven points of the second half, trimming the deficit to one while holding the Trojans scoreless for nearly three and a half minutes.

Simsbury began playing long toss, scoring on three consecutive three-point shots, including two by Medve, as part of an 11-0 run that put the Trojans back in front by double digits. The lead reached 15 with six and a half minutes to play, but Newington then embarked on its remarkable turnaround.

Three-pointers by Zack Tinkham, Evan Mach and Jared Simmons brought the Indians within a point, leading to Gomez’s basket in the final minute. After Medve’s drive and hoop, Newington coach Scot Wenzel twice called timeout, the second with five seconds remaining.

Simmons took the inbounds pass and dribbled near the top of the key, but lost his footing and fell to the floor, allowing Simsbury to claim its 12th victory against just one loss.

“Newington’s bread and butter is their competitiveness and toughness, and they’re not going to  stop coming at you,” Stillman said. “They turned up the heat on us and took the lead, but we tried to stay calm and had some time to make a play.”

E.J. Crawford led the Trojans with 23 points, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer as time expired in the third quarter.

“E.J.’s a great player who comes up big in big moments,” Stillman said. “He’s been sick the last couple of days, but he’s a competitor and didn’t want to miss this game. He probably played 30 out of 32 minutes, and at the end of the game was asked to guard their best player.”

Whyte finished with 18 points, while Medve had 13 for Simsbury. For the Indians, Marcus Guadarrama took game scoring honors with 24 points, Tinkham scored 13 and Simmons contributed 11.

Both teams return to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. Simsbury (12-1) travels to West Hartford to face Hall, while Newington (5-7) entertains Farmington.

EJ Crawford hits the game winning shot as Simsbury defeats Newington in boys basketball action Thursday night. Photo by Tim Jensen,

EJ Crawford hits the game winning shot as Simsbury defeats Newington in boys basketball action Thursday night. Photo by Tim Jensen,

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