NAUGATUCK — The Naugy girls ended a ten-year drought with a win in the first round of the Class L tournament before bowing out in the second round.
The Greyhounds entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed and welcomed No. 25 Avon to the borough for a first-round game on Feb. 25. Led by Sarah Wisniewski with 14 points and Kaylee Jackson with 10, the Greyhounds beat Avon, 39-27, to earn their first state tournament win since 2009 when they shocked Torrington, 58-54.
The victory over Avon (8-13) set up a home game against No. 9 Bristol Eastern in the second round on Feb. 28. The Lancers controlled the game from the tip en route to a 69-45 win to end the Greyhounds’ season.
Bristol Eastern (15-7) raced out to a 9-0 advantage before Hailey Deitelbaum finally got Naugy (17-7) on the board off an assist from Hailey Russell with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
Using a full-court pressure that switched into a matchup zone in the half court, the Lancers stole the ball on four straight possessions and built a commanding 17-2 lead. The Greyhounds never recovered.
“We didn’t do a good job getting back in transition,” Naugatuck head coach Gail Cheney said. “They are an excellent team and their shots were on.”
Bristol Eastern forced 26 turnovers, including 19 steals, and the closest Naugy got in the second half was 12 points.
Alyssa Roberts led Naugy with nine points. Wisniewski and McNeil added seven points each, with Deitelbaum (5 points), Jackson (4 points) and Julia Kropo (4 points) adding to the Greyhounds’ offense.
“I had a lot of girls that stepped up that haven’t had a lot of minutes,” Cheney said. “Alyssa Roberts came in and just dominated getting eight points for us in the first half. McNeil didn’t get a lot of minutes but came in and had an all-around game for us. Kropo came in and played enormous minutes for us.”
In two seasons as head coach, Cheney has helped change the recent landscape of Greyhound basketball. Naugatuck finished the last two regular seasons 17-3 and 15-5, respectively. The last time the Greyhounds put up those kind of records was back in 2002, when they reach the state quarterfinals, and 2003, when they reached the state semifinals, with 17-3 regular-season marks.
The Greyhounds will lose seniors Wisniewski, Deitelbaum, Mia Rotatori, Shannon Burns and Hannah Biondo to graduation, Naugatuck will return a solid group next year, including juniors Russell, Brielle Behuniak and McNeil, sophomore Roberts and a talented group of freshmen in Sara Macary, Jackson, Kropo and Kendall Allen.
“We do lose a great bunch of seniors but we have a real strong group coming back,” Cheney said. “The goal is to just get a little better every year.”
Woodland girls fall in Class M: No. 33 Woodland lost to No. 32 Amistad, 41-39, in the Class M qualifying round Feb. 22.
Gabby Mastropietro led the way with 14 points for the Hawks (8-13), who won four of their last five games to make the tournament, against Amistad (10-12).
Jillian Barbarito had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Kylie Bulinski (6 points), Andra Bojka (5 points) and Hana Bojka (4 points) added to the Woodland offense.
The Hawks will return nearly their entire squad next season with Hana Bojka the only senior on the team.