NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls basketball team showed they have a little bit left in the tank heading down the stretch of the season.
The Greyhounds snapped a four-game skid Jan. 22 with 41-24 win over Sacred Heart.
Once again it was the defense that set the tone. The Greyhounds (4-10) held the Hearts to just one point in the third quarter as they turned a 21-12 lead into an insurmountable 31-13 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.
“Turnovers have really been a big issue for us,” senior Ally Mezzo said. “But we have been able to establish our game in the paint and that is important to our offense. We just need to stay positive and keep working hard.”
Mezzo was a factor in Naugatuck controlling the boards versus Sacred Heart (5-8). Mezzo pulled down six rebounds and blocked a shot to go along with four points.
The Greyhounds held an 8-6 lead after the first quarter with Nicole Boucher (16 points, 11 rebounds) scoring on back-to-back possessions.
“We have a few younger girls stepping up,” Boucher said. “If we stay focused and continue to work hard we have an opportunity to still make the states. But it will take a team effort with everyone contributing to the offense.”
The Greyhounds only turned the ball over four times in the opening quarter and that allowed them to develop a little consistency on the offensive end. They really got into the flow when Jackie Aronin (6 points, 5 steals, 4 assists) buried a three out on the wing and Boucher followed it up with a three from the top of the key.
The threes opened up an 18-6 advantage with 2:56 to go in the half. Mia Rotatori (5 points, 3 steals, 3 assists) gave the Greyhounds an added presence on the offensive end and Hailey Deitelbaum (6 rebounds) showed her game in the paint.
Alyana Sosa (6 points, 3 steals) took a pass from Andrea Mercer (2 steals, 2 assists) and took it down the lane for a bucket to give Naugatuck a 21-12 halftime lead.
Naugatuck stayed focus to start the second half and turned the ball over just four times in the third quarter while putting the game away. Molly Kennedy, who has been one of Naugatuck’s top scorers, showed her all-around skills with two key blocks that shut down the Hearts’ offense.
Kennedy (3 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 assists) was part of a determined defense that held Sacred Heart to just one point in the third quarter.
The Hearts managed to put 11 points on the board in the final eight minutes but the Greyhounds scored in double-digits for the third quarter in a row to pull away.
Naugatuck dropped a 52-34 decision to Torrington (7-5) on Monday. The Greyhounds fell behind 15-8 in the first quarter and never recovered. Boucher led the way with 11 points, Kennedy checked in with 10 points and Mezzo chipped in with eight points.
The Greyhounds need to win four of their remaining six games to qualify for states, and there’s no quit in Naugatuck.
“The season is nowhere near being over,” Aronin said. “There are still some winnable games left on the schedule. If we come out and stay focused and work hard we are a team not to be taken lightly and we want to make states.”
Naugatuck will host Derby on Friday at 7 p.m. for Maple Hill Night, before heading to Watertown next Tuesday.