A back-and-forth game between crosstown rivals Norwalk and McMahon had both sides playing with passion and energy, a combination that boiled over with 4:25 left in the fourth quarter when McMahon coach Ken Dustin -- coaching his first varsity home game for the Senators -- was called for a technical foul with his team trailing by four.
Norwalk's Roy Kane, who finished with a triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks), sank the two free throws and the Bears pushed ahead by six. They held on to win 59-54 last Friday, and afterwards Dustin took responsibility for losing his cool.
"One really bad mistake by me, with that dumb technical, I kind of took it away from (my team). I feel really bad about that," Dustin said.
It was a magnanimous comment. But the Senators weren't undone by that one play alone. The see-saw battle was still a one-possession game with just over a minute left, surprising given the respective opening games by each team -- Norwalk handily beat Danbury 80-66, while McMahon was trounced by Staples 73-49.
The McMahon team that got wrecked by the Wreckers didn't show up last Friday night. In its stead was a team that played staunch defense and aggressive offense.
"Everybody plays harder against Norwalk High, but I think (the Staples game) was a little bit of a wakeup call," Dustin said. "Larry McKinney, Andy Mitchell, on the defensive side they really picked it up."
The score was tied 15-15 after one quarter. The Senators relentlessly attacked the rim, which made for some easy buckets but also for some impressive blocks from Norwalk's Kane. He finished the first quarter with four blocks -- or one more than his number of field goals.
His teammates looked for him throughout the game, which had its pluses and minuses as McMahon jumped the passing lanes several times in anticipation of passes. These turnovers led to some easy transition buckets for McMahon.
"Hats off to McMahon, they showed a lot of heart tonight," Norwalk coach Tom Keyes said. "I don't think we were exactly on our A game tonight. Too much standing around offensively, too much relying on Roy Kane to do everything. Other guys probably could have stepped up and helped him out a little bit."
McMahon led 29-26 at half. McKinney (17 points) and Kyle Jordan (10 points) paced the team's offensive attack. The game remained close throughout the third quarter, with McMahon pushing its lead to four when Mitchell hit a left-handed runner with seven minutes left. At the end of three quarters, it was 46-44 Norwalk.
Despite his triple double, Kane had a somewhat erratic game, missing several close shots and turning the ball over several times. But for every mistake, he seemed to have a game-changing correction.
In the fourth quarter, he was called for a travel. On the very next play he blocked Jordan's shot and Jabari Dear (17 points) scored in transition to put Norwalk ahead by four, 48-44.
Soon thereafter, Dustin was called for his technical. It may have given the Bears two points and the ball, but they didn't score on the bonus possession and the game remained tight.
Norwalk (2-0) wasn't as crisp as they'd been against Danbury, and they'll need to shore things up going forward in the FCIAC, Keyes said.
"To be able to win a game of this magnitude when you don't play well says a lot about our team," Keyes said. "We have to get back to work, because what we did tonight is not going to be good enough as we go through the FCIAC season."
Norwalk 59, McMahon 54
Sean Butler 1 0-0 Saeed Soulemane 2 2-2 7 Roy Kane 7 8-10 23 Jabari Dear 8 1-2 17 Nick Boccanfuso 0 0-0 0 Jeremy Linton 1 2-4 5 Luke Sweeney 0 0-0 0 Zaire Wilson 2 1-2 5 Totals: 21 14-20 59.
NORWALK 15 11 20 13--59
MCMAHON 15 14 15 10--54
3-pointers: N--Soulemane 1, Kane, Linton. BM--McKinney 2,