By Bill Landon
Newfield eighth-grader Ziggy Hoe’s first points were game-winning, literally.
The guard, making his debut at the varsity level, swished a three-pointer with less than a minute left to give his team a 58-56 advantage, and ultimately the win, for the Wolverines. Newfield edged out Comsewogue, 59-56, in the physical and foul-riddled nonleague game Dec. 13.
“They were very aggressive; they can make plays,” Newfield head coach Anthony Agostino said of Comsewogue. “I have two freshman and an eighth-grader. I’m real proud of my guys because they played so hard.”
It was a slow start, as neither team scored in the first three minutes of play. Comsewogue junior David Heller broke the ice when he hit a three-pointer, and after three unanswered field goals by Newfield, Heller tacked on another three-pointer to tie the game.
The Warriors’ defense put on an aerial show, blocking several shots, which forced the Wolverines to shoot from outside the paint. As a result, Comsewogue went on a run that helped it edge ahead 14-8 two minutes into the second quarter.
The teams traded points, and Comsewogue junior guard Tyler Petruzzi hit a long distance three-pointer with just under three minutes left until halftime that put his Warriors out front 21-12. Newfield rallied with a pair of defensive steals, and made it a four-point game by the break, 23-19.
Newfield’s Paul Vonvoight had the hot hand in the third, as the junior guard banked three field goals to put his team out front for the first time, 24-23, with 6:40 left in the quarter. The Warriors countered to retake the lead, 25-24, but Vonvoight drained a three-pointer to make it a three-point game, 33-30, with less than three minutes left in the third.
“We knew they’re a great team — we had to come out and fight for every point,” Vonvoight said. “We had to keep our cool, be humble and focus on every possession.”
Comsewogue went on a 8-1 run, and junior Dylan Morris Gray took to the floor after the Warriors’ starting point guard fouled out.
“We caught a break when [Joey] Carillo fouled out,” Agostino said.
But the team didn’t miss a beat. Morris Gray drove the lane and fought his way to the rim for two points and was fouled in the process. He completed the three-point play from the charity stripe to give his team a 40-34 lead, and both teams added a field goal to end the third with Comsewogue up 42-36.
The teams opened the final stanza trading points again, but this time, at the charity stripe. Then, Newfield senior forward Justin Ottenwalder hit a long distance trey to trail by three with just under five minutes left. Next, Ottenwalder stole the ball and drove the baseline, where he was fouled. He went to the line shooting once, and scored to tie the game 52-52 with 2:17 left in regulation.
“The first game was going to be hard because you’re not used to the speed of the game,” Ottenwalder said. “Effort and energy won the game for us today.”
Comsewogue junior guard Alan Smith spoke next with a shot from three-point land, only to have Ottenwalder counter, tying the game at 55-55.
After Comsewogue junior guard Tom McGuire split his chances at the free-throw line, Hoe dropped his three-pointer with 41 seconds on the clock, for the 58-56 lead.
“We were taking quick shots when we had the lead — we could’ve taken our time, taken all 35 seconds off the shot clock,” Heller said. “But we didn’t do that, and it cost us the game.”
Newfield’s defense made a stand and denied Comsewogue with a turnover, and drew a foul on a play with 5.4 seconds left. Vonvoight, shooting for two points, hit the front end but missed the back, for the point that gave the game its final score.
“The turnovers were a big thing — but I thought our rebounding was a lot better than our last game,” Comsewogue junior forward and center Patrick Billings said. “We can’t have the kind of mistakes we had today. We’ve just got to play better next game.”
Ottenwalder finished with 17 points for Newfield, and Vonvoight added 15.
Heller led Comsewogue with 18 points.
Comsewogue head coach Joel Sutherland told his team that the loss will serve as a wake-up call.
“I thought we came out strong, but we have to get better taking care of the ball,” Sutherland said. “This game will make us better, and it’ll make us stronger.”
Newfield hits the road to open league play Dec. 20 at Copiague, with tipoff scheduled for 4 p.m. Comsewogue will host Harborfields the same day at 5:45 p.m.