Masuk boys basketball team rolls in tourney opener

Tyler Newsom scored 26 points to lead the Panthers to an 87-64 win over Ansonia in the state playoff opener on Tuesday.

MONROE, CT — Having waited a week-and-a-half to resume game action, Masuk High’s boys basketball team was more than ready to take the court in its Division III State Tournament first-round game on Tuesday. No. 15 Masuk dominated in an 87-64 triumph over visiting and Ansonia (No. 18).

Tyler Newsom did his thing by hitting long range shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, and driving to the hoop to rack up 26 points. Mitch DeBernado hit a trio of shots from 3-point land and scored 17. Colin Francisco and Matt Domenichelli both dropped in 10.

Malakai Roy scored eight, Alex Simoulidis six, Ethan Palma five, Aiden Diaz four and Oliver Irving added one on a free throw.

Masuk led 16-9 after one quarter and scored 16 in the second for a 42-21 halftime lead and never looked back.

Ansonia found a little scoring touch in the second half and more than doubled its first-half total in the third quarter alone with a 23 spot. The Panthers, however, put another 26 points on the board in the third and built a 68-44 lead going to the fourth.

Newsom dropped in 11 points in the third quarter to lead the scoring attack, with an exclamation point provided by a dunk just before the buzzer as the game headed to the fourth.

The Panthers have been working hard in practice in preparation for the state playoffs and the team looked sharp on offense and strong on the defensive end. Much of the production came in the transition game as Masuk used defensive stops to spark the offense.

“It’s nice to play someone else other than ourselves,” Masuk Coach Peter Szklarz said.

Matt Domenichelli had 10 points for Masuk.

Masuk is perhaps a bit of a deceptive middle-of-the-pack seed. The Panthers have had to deal with injuries to key players, including Newsom and Domenicelli. Having both back in the fold for the state playoffs certainly gives the team a boost.

A No. 6 seed in the South-West Conference Tournament and playing on the road at No. 3 Bunnell of Stratford, the Panthers played tough and saw Bunnell beat the buzzer for a two-point victory.

Masuk will again be a heavy on-paper underdog when it visits No. 2 Lewis Mills in Burlington in the second round on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The Panthers, however, are a deeper, more dangerous squad than they were for much of the campaign.

“Now we’re getting healthy,” Szklarz said. “It’s nice to have a full squad. We haven’t had that in a while.”

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