NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls moved one step closer to qualifying for the state tournament with a 68-37 win over Derby last Friday as the Greyhounds celebrated Maple Hill Elementary School Night.
Angelina Piccirillo threw down 23 points and three 3-pointers to ignite the offense. It was her second 20-point game in the last three contests as the ‘Hounds have put together a 4-2 record over the last six games to close in on the postseason bid.
Amy Dietz took care of the action in the paint, tossing in 18 points and hauling down 10 rebounds to record her third double-double in the last six games.
Steph Lima also continued her all-around performance with 15 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists.
“Obviously getting the eight wins to get into the state tournament is always a goal but these girls are not going to be satisfied until they qualify for the NVL tournament,” Naugatuck head coach Jodie Ruccio said. “We always seem to be a second half team and right now we are playing well, especially in these last six games.”
Naugy was without point guard Emma Colucci, but several players stepped up to help out in that role, including Jess Butler, Jackie Aronin and Christina Batista.
Shelby Mendillo (15 points, 10 rebounds) teamed up with Shyanne Garofalo (nine rebounds) to give the Red Raiders a presence in the paint. Rebecca Adanti (10 points) went the length of the floor to put Derby on top 12-10 with 3:24 to go in the opening period.
But Piccirillo drained a 3-pointer and Raina Ceryak found Dietz in the low post as Naugatuck took a 20-15 lead heading into the second.
“I was happy to see our offense get on track with 20 in the first period,” Ruccio said, “but we gave up 15 and we needed to start playing some defense.”
Taylor Campos and Aronin provided some inspired play as Sydney Cotto and Felicia Gullotta started to win the battle on the boards.
Piccirillo scored on the Greyhounds’ next five possessions to open up a 31-20 advantage. Aronin sped up and down the floor, doing more than filling a role as she made plays that changed the complexion of the game.
She came up with a block and fed a pass down low to Dietz as Naugatuck went into the half holding a 35-26 advantage.
The Greyhounds came out in the second half in a half-court set and Derby had trouble matching up. Lima turned it up a notch and started to come away with steals as the Raiders had their hands full.
Naugatuck outscored Derby 16-7 advantage in the third period to build a comfortable, 51-33 lead. That was fueled by a 13-7 advantage in the rebounding department as the ‘Hounds continued to pressure Derby into turnovers.
Megan Warnke and Jess Case came on in the final period with Batista lighting it up for six points. Case scored on the final possession for the 68-37 final margin.
As part of Maple Hill Elementary School Night, the Green Wave took on State Farm in a 9-year-old Lil Pal exhibition at halftime, much to the delight of the 500 fans in attendance. Maple Hill students Jacob Blair, Elijah Borunda, Brayden Alves, Hudson Bombery and Michael Fortunato won a drawing to sit with the Greyhounds during the game.
Naugy can clinch a state tournament bid with its next win. That could come Friday when the ‘Hounds visit Holy Cross or Tuesday when they host Sacred Heart.