WATERBURY — Teams in the Naugatuck Valley League are quickly realizing that the Greyhounds are more than a one-player team. Stopping Jessica Webber, the soon-to-be 1,000-point scorer who is six away from the coveted mark, is not NHS’ lone threat.
For the second consecutive game, the Greyhounds had a player step up and break the 20-point mark, as Naugatuck throttled Crosby by a 74-51 margin to even its record at 2-2 on the season.
On Tuesday, Danielle Charette torched Watertown with 21 points in the Greyhounds’ first win of the season. Friday at Crosby, Julia Longo aired it out and threw down a 21 spot to lead Naugatuck to victory.
Of course, Webber (10 steals, seven rebounds, four assists) was doing her thing, knocking down 26 points, but the key to the game was the way the Greyhounds found a way to step up and around any adversity.
Charette was held in check by foul trouble, only to have Lauren Piroscafo boost the offense with nine points off the bench. Charette did most of her damage on the boards, as she hauled away nine rebounds.
Amber Kuczenski was a big help on the blocks, battling her way to six rebounds to help Renee Augustine (five rebounds) under the boards. When Naugatuck needed a little defensive presence, it looked no farther than Alexis Granahan, who came away with eight steals, tossed in five points and dished out four assists for good measure.
“Julia had a real nice game for us, and Lauren (Piroscafo) came in looking for her shot,” Naugatuck head coach Jodie Ruccio said. “Granahan is putting up some points as well as being our best defender by far. We are using all our options and getting players involved.
“We told the girls at the beginning of the season, ‘We have to live and die by the press this year. We may get beat on the boards once in a while, but if we pressure the ball, good things are going to happen.’”
The Greyhounds are quickly coming together and the more players understand their roles, the more dangerous this team becomes. Crosby battled with Naugatuck through a competitive first period, trailing 17-10.
Naugatuck shifted gears and began to utilize its options off the bench. Melissa Miller (three rebounds) and Kristen Myers came on to knock down points that led to a 13-2 run and with 3:27 to go in the half, the Greyhounds were firmly in control, holding a 34-12 lead.
Seven different players scored during a 20-point third period, and Augustine went on a five-point tear to open up a commanding 50-27 lead. Lachelle Canady (19 points) and Janelle Johnson (10 points) gave Crosby a fighting chance, as the Bulldogs hung up 17 points in the third period but couldn’t overcome a 20-point deficit caused by 11 second-quarter turnovers.
The Naugatuck offense pumped in 39 second-half points for its largest output of the season and will use that momentum as it heads into one of the biggest games of the first half of the season on Tuesday, against the undefeated Holy Cross Crusaders.