Naugatuck girls basketball looking to rebound from tough stretch

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
The Naugatuck girls basketball team finished the month of January with a devastating 56-53 loss to Crosby, extending a five-game skid and dropping their record to 4-7 on the season. The loss to Crosby on Jan. 26 marked the second time in four games they saw victory slip through their fingers.
Over a seven-game stretch Naugy faced two top-notch, out-of-league opponents in Pomeraug and Notre Dame of Fairfield.
The Greyhounds also faced the top of the two teams in the NVL, Holy Cross and Seymour, and all ended in the loss column. But it was the losses to Wolcott (55-48 on Jan. 18) and Crosby, two games that could have ended up in the win column, that can send a team spiraling.
Sophomore Aryn Bombery led the team with 17 points in the loss to Wolcott and senior Kendall Allen came through with 16 points. In the loss to Crosby, Allen led the way with a career-high 29 points but Naugy struggled to score after that, with J.J. Magalhaes adding eight points and senior Kaylee Jackson tallying seven points.
Naugy did put up a fight against Seymour on Jan. 21 in a 49-34 loss but never got started in an 80-44 loss to the Crusaders on Jan. 25. Allen poured in a team-high 15 points against Seymour and Jourdyn Brown led Naugy with 14 points in the setback to Holy Cross.
“I have a lot of confidence in Jourdyn,” said Purcaro. “She’s a great athlete and we have been working with her. She missed an entire month of the season and she is back and you can see what she can bring to the court.”
Between a three-week span with no games due to COVID, and then every time there was a big game on the schedule two or three starters were out, there were some bumps in the road to navigate.
“We have had our share of adversity so far this season,” said Purcaro. “It seems like it’s been one thing after another. We finally get the whole team back and we lose Aryn Bombery for a week with an injury. But these girls have been resilient and we are not giving up and will continue to work hard.”
Jackson (All-State, volleyball) and Allen (All-State, softball) lead an experienced group with fellow seniors Magalhaes, Saige Winslow and Brown playing key roles in the lineup.
Juniors Sophia DeFilippo (All-State, soccer) and Lauryn Ramalho have teamed up with Bombery (81 points, 10 points per game) to fill out the varsity rotation. Senior Alexis Robertson and sophomores Laniah Diaz and Ava DeFilippo have also logged varsity minutes.
“You never get to an All-State level without believing in yourself,” said Purcaro. “When you have accomplished athletes who know what it takes to be the best of the best, that confidence level will eventually filter down to the rest of the team.”
“Sophia is the reigning defensive player of the year for us. After playing on a 120-yard soccer field, put her in a gym to guard someone and her defensive skills are off the charts.”
Each of the three all-state athletes bring a little something different to the court and together they can be the difference in the final outcome. There is still a lot of basketball left for the Greyhounds.
“Kaylee (86 points, 7.9 per game) has a keen eye for the ball and knows how to react to the ball having honed those skills going up at the net in volleyball,” added Purcaro. “No, not all of her shots may fall every night. She may not get to every rebound. But she has the instincts and the basketball I.Q. to go for the ball and those instincts will put her in the position to be in the right place at the right time when the game is on the line.”
About Allen (113 points, 11.5 per game), Purcaro said: “She is a leader out there. She earned All-State as a catcher and that position has you being the leader out there on the field. On the court she is one of the toughest players out there.
“You can tell her influence when she is out there. Right now she is our most valuable player. She just always finds a way to maximize her potential and as a coach that’s all you can ask for in a player.
“A lot of these kids are high honors students, they are multiple sport athletes, they are leaders and excel in more than one sport. They hold down part-time jobs and they are super respectful and that comes from great examples at home. At the end of the day regardless of some won loss record, they are all winners in my book.”