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Article Published January 20, 2020

Hand Boys’ Hoops Beats North Haven in Rematch

By By Peter Vander Veer

The Hand boys’ basketball team played its best game of the season when the Tigers posted a 52-34 road victory over North Haven on Jan. 16. Head Coach Jimmy Economopoulos is hoping that the win will serve as a turning point for the Tigers, who halted a three-game losing streak and improved their record to 3-6 by beating the Indians.

Hand had taken a 50-47 home loss against North Haven in its season opener back on Dec. 19. The Tigers limited their turnovers on offense and applied the pressure on defense in order to claim victory in the rematch.

“We had 10 turnovers against North Haven, by far the fewest that we’ve had in any game this year,” Economopoulos said. “We took a 17-5 lead against them before they went on a 10-0 run and closed it to 17-15. We went with the press, outscored them 14-0, and took a 31-15 lead into halftime. From there, we could run some time off the clock with a good ball-control offense. It helps when you can do that.”

The win finished off a week that saw Hand lose to Hillhouse by a 51-42 final in a home game on Jan. 13. Junior forward Nick Donofrio scored 10 points to go with 15 rebounds and six blocked shots for the Tigers versus Hillhouse. Fellow junior Scott Testori, a power forward, had nine points and 12 rebounds in the contest.

“Hillhouse’s speed, quickness, and pressure made it difficult for us to get into a good half-court game,” said Economopoulos.

Testori scored 13 points for the Tigers when they defeated North Haven. Senior Ken Nuzzi had 10 points, and junior center Mike Travisano chipped in with nine points on the night.

“Mike is able to muscle his way in against those teams that like to thrive on trying to outrebound you,” Economopoulos said. “Scott’s the same way. He’s has a knack for using his agility and good vertical leap to pull down rebounds.”

Nuzzi is serving as one of the Tigers’ senior captains this year. Nuzzi leads the team alongside fellow senior captain Jesse Lutz. Hand’s other senior, Mack Donofrio, has been sidelined due to an injury.

“Jesse brings us so much energy,” said Economopoulos. “He’s very vocal, always full of enthusiasm. He’ll come in off the bench and fire everyone up.”

Junior Ryan Collins has been great from long range throughout the season, knocking down 3-pointers at a 43-percent clip. Fellow junior Nick Donofrio is averaging 13 points per contest after starting every game as a sophomore last year.

“We use Ryan from the outside, but he can drive to the basketball, as well,” Economopoulos said. “Nick is our mid-range guy. We try to lock in on him in big situations.”

Hand has its sights set on qualifying for the Division III State Tournament this winter. Coach Economopoulos knows that the Tigers need to have balanced scoring, play stout defense, and minimize their turnovers during the second half of the season if they want to make it there.

“We’re not a team which has a guy who can give us 20 points per night, so we’ve got to outwork teams to win. We’ve got to try and shut them down with our defense,” Economopoulos said. “It’s an interesting year. If we start to take some bad aspects of our game and switch them around, we could have a pretty decent finish. One thing I can count on is that these kids aren’t going to quit. That really helps.”