Naugy battles until the end

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls basketball season ran its course and came up just short of qualifying for the state tournament.

The Greyhounds needed to win its final two games of the season and were eliminated from playoff consideration Feb. 12 in a 40-31 loss to Woodland.

Naugy stormed out to a 16-12 lead in the first quarter with Ally Mezzo scoring half of the teams points. It would be the last quarter the Greyhounds would put up double-digit points as Woodland held Naugy to 15 points the rest of the way, including nine points in the second half.

Woodland managed to pull ahead in the second quarter only to have Nicole Boucher (8 points, 10 rebounds) score on back-to-back possessions to give the ‘Hounds a slim 22-19 lead at the half.

Alexis Woods (five points) and Molly Kennedy (four points) battled hard underneath but the Naugy offense struggled. Jackie Aronin (six points) broke a six-minute scoreless spell hitting a 3-pointer to close the gap at 28-25, but it was the only points Naugatuck would score in the third quarter.

Trailing 33-25 heading into the final quarter Boucher again scored on back-to-back possessions to close the gap at 34-30 with 4:25 to play. Naugy got outscored 6-1 down the stretch and fell short of its goal of qualifying for the postseason.

“The girls have been battling and playing hard all year long,” Naugy head coach Jodie Burns said. “It’s not the girls’ effort, it’s the execution. We missed more than three-quarters of our layups this year. Those are the points you need to have and we just didn’t get them, the opportunities were there.”

The Greyhounds bounced back with 37-34 victory over Wolcott Tuesday on senior night to finish 7-13 on the year. Boucher led the way in the win with 13 points.

A lack of scoring hampered the Greyhounds all season, and denied the ‘Hounds a spot in the postseason for the second year in row. Naugy has scored four points or less in a quarter in nine of its 13 losses.

“Injuries have not helped the past two years,” Burns added. “I know all teams go through injuries but for the second year in a row we lost our starting center and it does take a lot out of a team.”

The injuries have offered some more opportunities for the younger players on the team.

“It has allowed us to develop some young talent. Last year, Molly Kennedy, Alyana Sosa and Alyssa Petersen were freshman and made a huge impact. Petersen is out for the year with an ACL injury and we have three more freshman step up in Mia Rotatori, Hailey Deitelbaum and Shannon Burns.”

What kept the Greyhounds within striking distance was a defense that held opponents to single digits in at least one quarter in 19 of 20 games. But the lack of consistency on offense more times than not did the Greyhounds in.

They held a very good Watertown team to just one point in the third quarter of the season-opener and ended up losing by four points.

Naugy held a 25-20 lead over Seymour and ended up losing by four as they managed just 18 second half points. They held a usually strong Torrington team to just 19 first half points, but a two-point first quarter spelled a four-point defeat for the Greyhounds.

“It’s not like we haven’t been competitive,” Burns said. “We have very talented athletes that play other sports. But you just can’t pick up a basketball in December and expect to succeed in this league. It’s just not how it works.”