MONROE, CT – A solid second half by the Masuk High boys basketball team led the Panthers to a 53-42 win over visiting Bethel in a physical-at-times battle on Senior Night Thursday.
Owen Smith scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 7-for-8 from 2-point range and 2-of-3 from 3-point land. Tyler Newsom had 18 points to go along with four rebounds.
Dylan Jackson put together a strong all-around game as he contributed five points, five assists, six rebounds and five steals, and added an exclamation point to Senior Night with a late dunk — the first of his career.
Colin Francisco had four points and five rebounds and Matt Domenichelli logged five rebounds.
Seniors Mike Cafaro, Greg Nivison, Jackson and Smith were honored.
The Panthers trailed 21-15 at halftime and turned things around in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 18-10 in the stanza.
Newsom’s basket in close with three-plus minutes left in the third gave Masuk a 24-23 lead. The game went back and forth the rest of the way in the period. A right-corner 3-pointer by Alex Simoulidis with two seconds left gave Masuk a 33-31 lead heading into the fourth.
Newsom scored 10 and Smith and Jackson combined for 10 more in the final quarter.
Masuk was clinging to a 35-33 lead when hard work on the offensive boards, and a fourth-chance basket following a small handful of rebounds, extended the lead courtesy of Newsom.
A nice passing sequence led to an easy layup for Smith to push the lead to 39-33 at the mid-point of the stanza. Newsom had two late 3-point plays the old-fashioned way to help build on the lead.
The Panthers were coming off an 81-74 loss to Brookfield two days earlier. Ethan Palma and Newsom both scored 21 in the game.
Masuk improved to 9-10 overall and 5-8 in South-West Conference play. The Panthers have qualified for the state playoffs and entered into the final days of the season waiting on other SWC games to determine their conference playoff fate.
Masuk ends the regular season with an out-of-conference game this Saturday, Feb. 18, at St. Joseph of Trumbull at 12:15 p.m.