NAUGATUCK — There are times when a team’s overall success hinges on weathering a storm. The Naugatuck girls basketball team finds itself in a tempest of preseason injuries.
“We lost our starting center Alyssa Peterson for the season to an ACL injury,” head coach Jodie Burns said. “She really came into her own last year as a freshman scoring in 16 games for us. We will need sophomore Alexis Woods to step up and fill a much larger role this year.”
The injuries don’t stop there.
“Right now we have junior Ashley Daymonde out with a concussion and sophomore Bridget Rosikiewicz out with a knee injury,” Burns said. “If we can steal a few wins early on and keep everyone else healthy in the process, come January we are going to be in a good position.”
Daymonde is a blue collar player and Rosikiewicz made an immediate impact when she was inserted in the lineup late last season.
This storm isn’t unchartered waters for Naugy. The Greyhounds actually became a stronger team last season having gone through the same adversity.
Naugatuck was cruising along seven games into last season when the wheels came off the wagon. Leading scorer Nicole Boucher was injured and lost for the season as the Greyhounds limped to a 2-18 finish and missed the postseason for the first time in three years.
The silver lining was a group of young players quickly gained experience.
Senior tri-captains Jackie Aronin, Andrea Mercer and Nicole Boucher will look to get Naugatuck back into the postseason this season.
The good news is Boucher, who was averaging at 11 points per game, is back to lead the way. Aronin put up 77 points last season and Mercer added 70 points to help fuel Naugatuck’s offensive attack.
Burns is hard at work putting the pieces together as she waits on her team to be back to full strength.
“Every year you look for that player that becomes the comfort zone and settles the rest of the team down,” Burns said. “Boucher is that kind of player. We are thinking about moving her out to the point guard spot to utilize her scoring ability, but that will make us a small team and we will need to use our speed on defense.”
What Naugatuck may lack in basketball terms they make up for in athleticism. Senior Ally Mezzo will be counted on to use her volleyball leaping ability to help control the boards.
“What we have are girls who know how to be competitive and that will work in our favor,” Burns said. “They all excel in other sports so they are tough kids. We have volleyball, soccer and softball players who are fierce competitors.”
Juniors Katie Jones and Michelle Cordova saw varsity time last year. The experience gained by young players last season, like sophomores Alyana Sosa and Molly Kennedy, will significantly aid in the Greyhounds’ goal of reaching the postseason.
“With her speed and quick hands there is no reason why Alyana can’t score four or five baskets off steals,” Burns said. “Molly scored 63 points last year and may have been a little intimidated, but she has the skills to be a great basketball player. We will be looking to her to score and this could be a breakout season for her.”
There may be no team in the league that will catch Holy Cross or Torrington, but reaching the postseason and qualifying the NVL tournament are more than realistic goals for this year’s Greyhounds.
Naugatuck will begin to weather the storm when the Greyhounds open the season Tuesday at home versus Watertown. Naugatuck will then head to Beacon Falls Friday for a valley showdown with Woodland.