NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls basketball team came into the season looking to stay competitive until the New Year when several injured players are expected to return to the court.
The Greyhounds are a little short-handed at the moment with injuries to Ashley Daymonde and Bridget Rosikiewicz. Over the Christmas break, Naugy was even more short-handed with several players away on vacation.
Through five games, the short-handed Greyhounds stand at 2-3. The one constant for the Greyhounds has been a strong defensive effort that has kept them competitive. In all five games this season the Naugy defense has held opponents in single digits in at least one quarter.
“We came into the season hoping to weather the storm until everyone is back and maybe pick up a couple of wins along the way,” Naugatuck head coach Jodie Burns said. “I know they say defense wins championships but in the game of basketball you still need to put the ball in the hoop. If we could convert just half of our opportunities in the paint we’d be scoring 50 points per game.”
After dropping two games to start the season, Naugatuck pulled its record even with wins over Ansonia, 54-7, and Sacred Heart, 40-19, last week. In both games the defense didn’t allow either team to score in double digits in a quarter.
A 17-2 edge in the second quarter helped the ‘Hounds pull away from Sacred Heart Dec. 26. Nicole Boucher led the way for Naugatuck with 20 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. The Naugatuck defense allowed just 10 points in the second half.
“Nicole had the best game of her career against Sacred Heart,” Burns said. “When she is on and has some support out on the wing she can take over a game.”
Naugy does have some support. Jackie Aronin (20 points), Alyana Sosa (16 points), Ally Mezzo (15 points) and Andrea Mercer (14 points) have all shown the ability to score for Naugatuck. But one more bucket per game out of each player would put the offense on track to score 50 points per game instead of the 37 points per game Naugatuck is averaging through five games.
“Our defense has really kept us in games and given us a chance,” Burns said. “(Michelle) Cordova gave us a strong ten minutes against Sacred Heart. Molly (Kennedy) gets 20 touches a game and is averaging five steals. Alyana and Jackie have been giving us strong defensive efforts, but they both have the ability to score some points and we need that and can’t rely on Nicole every night.”
On Tuesday, the Naugatuck defense managed to hold Wolcott to single digits in the fourth quarter, but the Greyhounds didn’t have enough offense to stay with the Eagles. Naugatuck fell to Wolcott, 51-35, and dropped to 2-3 on the season.
Boucher led the way with 13 points. Aronin and Mezzo chipped in with seven points each. Sosa and Kennedy added four points each, but it wasn’t enough offense as the rest of the team went scoreless.
“If our bench players come in and can contribute one basket each we would consistently be in the 40s,” Burns said. “We should have both of our players back from the injured list around the middle of January and hopefully that will allow us to start finishing off opportunities in the paint.”
Naugy has a tough road to open January. The Greyhounds are at Barlow on Saturday and then host Crosby on Tuesday.