But if the New London boys basketball team is going to improve from 11-12 a year ago, it will take contributions like the one junior reserve guard Jacob Allen made on Friday.
Scoreless through three quarters, Allen scored his only two baskets of the game to start the fourth quarter of the season opener against Edison. The Wildcats had coughed up a double-digit lead, and held a slim 36-31 lead entering the final eight minutes.
But Allen’s two baskets to begin the final quarter capped a 9-0 scoring run and spurred the ‘Cats to a 14-4 scoring margin in the 50-35 win over the Chargers.
“Jacob has come a long way since the start of practice,” New London coach Tom Howell said. “He will be a big part of this team because he can shoot it and is a good defender.
“He’s one of the reasons we’re going to be able to play the way we want to play,” Howell added. “He is going to surprise some people.”
A young and inexperienced Edison team had fallen behind 12-2 less than four minutes into the game. But eventually the Chargers worked their way back into the game, tying the game at 31 on a Larry Kessler basket with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
It was the only time Edison had tied the game, and it lasted just 11 seconds. Ben Crawshaw buried a corner 3-pointer, and Ashton Carruthers scored the final basket of the third with 36 seconds left to make it 36-31.
Allen then scored his two baskets to make it 40-31 in favor of the ‘Cats with 5:34 left in the game. A Carson Ehrhardt basket at the 4:30 mark snapped a 4:51 scoring drought for the Chargers.
However, it again took New London short time to answer, as Karson Howell scored 18 seconds later. Jaylin Moffit followed him with a basket for a 45-33 lead, while Carruthers put the exclamation point on the win with a 3-pointer that made it 49-35 with 2:51 left.
Edison was just 15-of-52 shooting from the floor, and did not make a free throw in nine attempts.
“We took a lot of quick perimeter shots, and with a young team, we kind of expected that,” Edison coach Kyle Hammond said. “We felt from that stretch on from 31-31, they (New London) just played better basketball. A lot of that was Howell and Carruthers, who are very good players.”
Howell scored the first eight points of the season, and Crawshaw added a basket for a 10-0 lead at the 4:48 mark of the first. Edison somewhat minimized the damage at 18-10 after one quarter, and pulled within 26-20 at halftime.
Trailing 29-23 in the third quarter, Ehrhardt scored twice and Patrick Amburgy once — sandwiched around a Carruthers basket — to pull within 31-29 at the 2:16 mark of the quarter.
Kessler then tied it up 25 seconds later, before the ‘Cats closed strong.
“I thought they competed and bounced back early when we fell behind,” Hammond said of his team. “I was happy with their competitiveness. We’re just going to have a lot of learning throughout these games.
“The faster we can accelerate that learning, the better we’re going to be,” he added.
Kessler led the Chargers with 13 points. Ehrhardt added nine points and seven rebounds, and Amburgy had nine points and four rebounds.
For New London, Howell had 16 points, while Carruthers had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Moffit also grabbed eight rebounds.
“Once we get consistent and play for four quarters, we’ll be fun to watch and hopefully hard to beat towards the middle and end of the season,” said Tom Howell, who takes his team to Wellington for a non-league game tonight.
“It’s a little bit different of a team than we’ve had the last couple of years,” the coach added. When we run and share the ball is when we’re at our best. On the defensive side we’re going to switch things up.”
New London visits Wellington tonight in another non-league game.
“I was impressed with the way they flat out played as hard as they can for four quarters,” Howell said of his team.” And we haven’t done that even in scrimmages. But I thought we competed. That’s all you want these kids to do. Compete and see what happens.”
Dylan O’Dell 1-0—2; Seth Thompson 1-0—2; Carson Ehrhardt 4-0—9; Larry Kessler 5-0—13; Patrick Amburgy 4-0—9. TOTALS 15-0—35.
NEW LONDON (1-0)
Ben Crawshaw 2-1—6; Ashton Carruthers 7-1—16; Jacob Allen 2-0—4; Jaden Keys 2-0—4; Jared Ross 1-0—2; Jaylin Moffit 1-0—3; Karson Howell 5-4—16. TOTALS 20-5—50.
Edison 10 10 11 4 — 35
N. London 18 8 10 14 — 50
3-point FGs: (E) Kessler 3, Ehrhardt, Amburgy; (NL) Howell 2, Carruthers, Crawshaw, Moffit
JV: Edison, 42-40