Naugatuck girls staying ahead of the curve

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — There’s going to be a learning curve for a young team with a new head coach.

The Naugatuck girls basketball team has taken steps forward and backward this season, but was ahead of the curve at 3-2 after splitting a pair of games this week.

“It starts with accountability,” Naugatuck head coach Adam Purcaro said. “And that begins with me, first and foremost. Yes, we are a young team and don’t have the kind of depth I would like, but that gives us no reason to make excuses.”

“We need to own up to our mistakes,” he added, “learn from them and focus on the three ingredients that will make us a better basketball team: team defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball.”

The Greyhounds have found success even when they haven’t been at their best. That was evident March 1 in a 48-41 win against Watertown.

Naugatuck struggled out of the gate with starter Kaylee Jackson out with an ankle injury. Watertown led 9-2 after four minutes, thanks in part to seven Naugy turnovers.

But Naugy is tenacious, and after Julianna Magalhaes (7 points) drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer the Greyhounds took an 11-10 lead into the second quarter.

The Greyhounds’ diversity on offense — five players have scored in double figures and three different players have led the team in scoring through five games — came into play in turning the game around.

Kendall Allen took on the leadership role and scored a game-high 22 points and hauled in 21 rebounds. Saige Winslow (8 points) and Aryn Bombery (six points) made their presence felt.

“Each game is a barometer at where we are and where we need to go,” Purcaro said. “We don’t want to be making excuses, passing the blame or having a lack of accountability. We want to exhibit the characteristics of successful teams and that begins in practice. There needs to be an urgency at the start of each game with a greater attention to details.”

Naugy ran smack dab into a tough St. Paul squad on March 3 and lost 54-27. A quick 11-3 deficit set the tone in the first quarter.

Jackson led the way for Naugy with 10 points and Lauren Ramalho added eight points.

“We started out down a player when (Sophia) Defilippo was injured in the JV game,” Purcaro said. “We battled back and were within striking distance in the third quarter when Allen got injured. That’s when the train came off the tracks.”

“But we don’t want to be making excuses,” he added. “We still got off to a poor start and I just got outcoached by a seasoned vet who has many successful years in the league. We will watch the film, see where we need to get better and apply it to our next game.”

The Greyhounds have seven regular-season games left to play over a two-week stretch. Naugatuck is scheduled to play Wolcott on March 5, St. Paul on March 8 and Ansonia on March 9, before closing out next week against Waterbury Career on March 12.