‘Hounds continue to battle

Naugatuck’s Andrea Mercer (42) shoots as Oxford’s Emily Smith (24) runs in to defend Jan. 8 in Naugatuck. Naugatuck won the game, 40-16. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck’s Andrea Mercer (42) shoots as Oxford’s Emily Smith (24) runs in to defend Jan. 8 in Naugatuck. Naugatuck won the game, 40-16. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls basketball team achieved what it was hoping for emerging from December with a 2-3 record while waiting for some players to get healthy

The month of January hasn’t been any easier as the Greyhounds dropped three games against teams (Barlow, Crosby and Holy Cross) with a combined 20-5 record.

Naugatuck did put its third game in the win column last Friday in a 40-16 win over Oxford as the defense set the tone. Through nine games, the Greyhounds have held opponents to single digits in a quarter 18 times. What has been hurting their chances is an offense that has scored in single digits in 23 out of 36 quarters.

Naugatuck received some good news recently with Bridget Rosikiewicz returning to the team after an injury that occurred prior to the start of the season. Rosikiewicz is playing JV at the moment to get back into shape.

But it’s been one step forward and two steps back this season for Naugatuck. Ashley Daymonde, who was originally thought to be back by mid-January, may not be back at all. And to make matters worse Alyana Sosa was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Naugatuck head coach Jodie Burns sees the injuries as a chance for the younger players to rise to the occasion.

“There is a great opportunity for some of the younger players to step up and take advantage of the situation,” she said. “I still believe this team is capable of qualifying for the states.”

In the win over Oxford Molly Kennedy recorded a career-high 17 points and came away with six steals to lead the way. Nicole Boucher added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Naugy.

Mia Rotatori, Hailey Deitelbaum and Ally Mezzo have set the tone on the defensive end for Naugatuck this season.

“Mia and Hailey have been fearless setting screens and boxing out,” Burns said. “But Ally Mezzo has been our most stable defender and had a couple of blocks against Holy Cross. Michelle Cordova has also provided strong minutes for us on the defensive end, as well.”

Naugatuck has a few other weapons in Shannon Burns, a three-point threat, and Alexis Woods playing under the boards. The Greyhounds are going to need two crucial pieces of the puzzle to step it up in Jackie Aronin and Andrea Mercer if they have plans on making the postseason.

Aronin scored nine points in the 65-23 loss to Holy Cross on Monday and has scored in eight of nine games this season. Mercer has scored in five of the nine games she has played and will need to look for her shot.

Naugatuck’s Nicole Boucher (34) pushes the ball up the court as Oxford’s Makena Hillman (12) trails her Jan. 8 in Naugatuck. Naugatuck won the game, 40-16. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck’s Nicole Boucher (34) pushes the ball up the court as Oxford’s Makena Hillman (12) trails her Jan. 8 in Naugatuck. Naugatuck won the game, 40-16. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“Jackie can score points and she is going to have to take the ball to the basket. Andrea will be taking Alyana’s spot in the lineup and needs to make better choices with her shot selection,” Burns said.

The Greyhounds dropped to 3-7 on the year after a 45-41 loss to Seymour Wednesday. Kennedy led the Greyhounds with 13 points followed by Boucher with eight.

Burns has faith that the Greyhounds can earn a spot in the postseason, but knows their margin for error is thin.

“We have the ability and there are some winnable games ahead of us but we can’t waste our chances,” she said. “We have some specialty nights coming up and we always rise to the occasion in those games.”

On Jan. 22 Naugatuck will host Sacred Heart on YMCA Night where Y players get in for free and will have a chance to play in an exhibition game at halftime.

On Jan. 25 Naugatuck will host Hillside/Cross Street Night, and Jan. 29 versus Derby it will be Maple Hill Night with the proceeds from the 50/50 raffle going to Derby head coach Dave Chevarella’s wife, who is battling cancer.

Naugatuck will hit the road to play St. Paul on Friday and Kennedy next Tuesday.