Diversity propels Naugatuck  

Naugatuck’s Mia Rotatori (11) shoots in the lane over Wolcott’s Raven Cody (11) and Samantha Hickey (12) Tuesday night against Wolcott at Naugatuck High School. Naugatuck won the game, 53-40. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — The saying “You live by the sword, you die by the sword” can be traced back to the Gospel of Matthew. In the game of basketball, that phrase suits relying on a go-to scorer well.

If that go-to scorer is having a good night, generally victory follows. But on those occasions when that player is off, games tend to end up in the loss column.

The Greyhounds no longer look for that go-to scorer. They have embraced the philosophy that on any given night anyone can lead the team to victory, and the results speak for themselves.

Through the first half of the season, the Greyhounds have been, well, surprising at 8-2 and right up there with the top teams in the league.

Four of Naugy’s victories were decided by four points or less. In each of those games a different player led the team in scoring.

“We work on that consistency in practice every day,” head coach Gail Cheney said. “I tell all the girls you can shoot the ball. If you are not making your shots we can fix it so you will make your shots.

“Everyone on this team has gained a tremendous amount of confidence and they go into a game with a certain expectation. The whole philosophy is to give everyone a shot to be that scorer, and it has paid off.”

On Tuesday night, it was Shannon Burns who led the Greyhounds with 15 points on five 3-pointers in a 53-40 win over Wolcott (4-5). Alyana Sosa had 12 for the Greyhounds, and Mia Rotatori added 11 points.

Last week, the Greyhounds were severely tested against Ansonia and managed to squeak out a 44-41 win. Sosa led the way with 18 points and Alyssa Roberts knocked down eight crucial points to help pull out the victory.

The pieces are falling into place as players are stepping up throughout the lineup.

Last Friday, Burns delivered in the clutch with a team-high 17 points as the Greyhounds beat Watertown, 53-50, in overtime.

Earlier in the season Bridget Rosikiewicz led the team with 17 points in a 47-44 win over Waterbury Career. The following game it was Rotatori who threw down a team-high 11 points in a 47-43 win over Oxford.

“And it’s not who is putting the ball in the basket that is making us successful,” Cheney said. “In the win over Watertown, Shannon did a great job and her eight free throws down the stretch kept us in front. But it was Alyssa Peterson that brought the ball up court and broke their press. Without Alyssa we wouldn’t have won that game.

“Everyone is contributing to our success, whether they are putting the ball in the basket or not. On any given day anyone of these girls can be the star of the game and they know that and they believe that.”

Naugatuck’s Shannon Burns puts up a 3-pointer Tuesday night against Wolcott at Naugatuck High School. Naugatuck won the game, 53-40. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Senior Alexis Woods has been an influence in the paint for the Greyhounds, and junior Hailey Deitelbaum, who has knocked down nine points a game on several occasions, is another player who can deliver in the clutch.

The all-out hustle of sophomores Brielle Behuniak and Alissa McNeil has helped to neutralize the opponent’s hot hand and has given Naugy a defensive presence on the court.

“Players are always stepping up,” Cheney said. “When Bridget (Rosikiewicz) was out for a while we didn’t know who would step up and there was Alyssa (Roberts) who gave us a huge game against Ansonia.

“And with everyone contributing the camaraderie on this team is just amazing. They are all pulling for one another to succeed and no one is worrying about playing time. They know if they work hard they will earn that time.”

Naugatuck will head to Seymour on Friday. Next week, the Greyhounds host Torrington on Tuesday and visit Woodland on Wednesday.

“We can’t overlook any team,” Cheney said. “The league is so competitive this year. Ansonia and Watertown gave us a battle, so you can’t judge what a team is going to bring to the court based on their record.”