BY KEN MORSE
If the Naugatuck girls basketball team (1-7) found out one thing in the first half of this season it would be they don’t match up well trying to go basket for basket with most teams. In five of the losses, they have surrendered 60 points or more.
In the three games they held opponents under that 60-point mark, they have given themselves a fighting chance. In the second game of the season, they dropped a close 50-45 matchup to Crosby. Just before the Christmas break they came up on the short end of a 48-45 decision to Nonnewaug. On Jan. 5, they did find success, earning a 46-41 win over Wilby. It was defense that was the final factor.
Naugy jumped out to a 14-9 first quarter lead over the Wildcats. When Wilby got back into the offensive flow they took over the lead, 37-30, heading into the final quarter. That’s when the Greyhounds’ defense stepped up its game winning the quarter by a 16-4 margin and taking home the victory.
As far as the offense went, they spread the damage around with Aryn Bombery leading the way with 15 points and 12 rebounds in her fourth straight double-double. Laniah Diaz checked in with 11 points, Phoebe Jagello knocked down eight and Sarah Redente contributed six. On defense, it’s players like Ava DeFilippo and Makyla Simon-Smith that turn the tide.
“Most games we have been able to keep it close through three,” said Naugatuck coach Jon Carroll. “A combination of poor shooting and turnovers usually seals the deal for us down the stretch.”
Naugatuck went up against neighboring rival Woodland Jan. 9 and managed to stay in the game early on, trailing 12-8 after the first quarter and 28-20 at the half. A seven-point swing in the third quarter proved to be too much to overcome as the Hawks pulled away with a 60-44 win.
“We did show a little consistency on offense against them but their top two kids brought their ‘A’ game,” said Carroll. “Mulligan not only scores but she has added this passing game that finds open shooters and gets the whole team involved, and that adds another dimension.
“We were 0-7 from three in the first half but still only down, 28-20. We still were in it at the half. One or two of those goes, it changes the whole complexion of the game. We were able to handle their full-court pressure and we were getting good shots.”
Carroll continued: “There is improvement there, but we are not quite where we need to be.
We are digging a little deeper into our bench. We had close to 10 players in the game. It’s who has played well in practice, how much they produce when they are in there, I like the progress that the bench is making and I like the leadership from our seniors. We are just taking it a step at a time.”
Bombery led the Greyhounds with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Diaz threw down 10 points and Lana Moreau added six. DeFilippo, Simon-Smith, Jagello, Audrey Lynch and Callie
Crosswait added baskets to close out the scoring for Naugy.
The Hounds were scheduled to play Cheshire on Monday and Torrington on Wednesday. Naugy is slated to play Oxford on Friday.