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No letdown season for Northwestern

POSTED February 24, 2014
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

WINSTED - The names have changed but one thing remains the same for Northwestern boys basketball, winning.

The Highlanders won't win a third straight Berkshire League regular season title this season but they are playing good basketball at the right time and remain one of the top teams in the BL.

Northwestern (13-6) picked up its latest innings with a hard fought 70-66 victory over Litchfield on Monday night. The Highlanders have win four straight and five of their last six with one regular-season game to play.

It was senior night at Northwestern but a pair of juniors led the way. Steven McGrath scored 26 points and Ricky Persechino added 25 while hitting seven 3-pointers.

"It was a good win because we had to battle down the stretch and execute," Northwestern coach Doug Sebach said.

Over the last few years battles for the Highlanders had been few and far between. Two seasons ago Northwestern won the BL regular season title and went to the Class S semifinals before losing to eventual state champ Immaculate of Danbury. Last year the Highlanders blitzed the BL and went undefeated and were 24-0 before a Class M quarterfinal loss to Bloomfield.

This season was looked at as a rebuilding year at Northwestern by many on the outside, but instead the Highlanders have reloaded and have a roster that featurs just two seniors.

"As the season has gone on we have gotten better and better and the chemistry has grown," senior John Lippincott said. "It hasn't been a rebuilding year at all and these guys are going to be really good next year too."

Despite saying goodbye to 1000-point scorers John Stevens and Conor Guiheen and a host of other seniors, Northwestern has done a good job of picking up where it left off. The Highlanders will be a tough out in the BL and Class M tournaments and have given BL champ Terrville it's two toughest league games of the season.

A big part of the reason e Highlanders are back near the top in the league is the senior tandem of Lippincott and forward Ted Bremer. Both were key reserves over the past two seasons and are now embracing leadership roles.

"Those two guys have played in a lot of big games over the last few years and been a part of some championship teams," Sebach said. "They have been good leaders and helped the team come along as the season has progressed."

"We are enjoying the leadership roles," Lippincott said. "Ted and I have come of the bench for a few seasons and it's different this season as starters but it has been a good experience and we have all worked hard every day as a team."

Now the Highlanders are looking to make that hard work pay off come tournament time. They lost by six and eight points to Terryville this season and could possibly get anger shot at the Kangaroos in the BL Tournament. Northwestern will likely open the league tournament with another meeting with Litchfield.

"We are playing well and looking forward to the postseason," Lippincott said. "We want to get hot going into the BL Tounament and try and defend the title there and then go as far as we can in the state tournament."

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