Naugy girls halfway to postseason

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NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls basketball team headed into the new year with a 4-1 mark and halfway to the goal of qualifying for the postseason.

What is really encouraging is the Greyhounds have reached that mark by playing team basketball and showing resolve down the stretch in the games.

“We are having someone different every game stepping up,” Naugatuck head coach Gail Cheney said. “Lately, we have been in some tight games and the girls are rising to the occasion.”

Naugatuck battled back from a 23-18 halftime deficit last Wednesday against Waterbury Career to pull out a 47-44 win.

Bridget Rosikiewicz led the Greyhounds with 17 points against WCA (2-3). Alyana Sosa and Hailey Deitelbaum added nine points each, and Alexis Woods, Mia Rotatori and Evelyn Diaz chipped in with four points each.

“It takes a lot of pressure off when you are not relying on just one or two players to provide all the points,” Cheney said.

Last Friday, the Greyhounds faced Cheney’s former team, the Oxford Wolverines. This time it was Rotatori that led the way, knocking down 11 points in a 47-43 victory that went down to the wire.

“It was kind of bittersweet,” Cheney said. “I spent last year coaching Oxford, so on one hand I’m rooting for them but I certainly don’t want them to win while playing us.”

Sosa (10 points), Rosikiewicz (9 points), Deitelbaum (6 points) and Alissa McNeil (4 points) spread the offense around to help Naugy battle back from another halftime deficit.

Rosikiewicz was a force down low and opened the third quarter with a strong putback to give Naugy the lead. She made sure it held up by dropping in a bucket on the baseline to give the Greyhounds a 33-30 lead heading into the final quarter.

Several players stepped up in the game’s final eight minutes to make it happen for the Garnet and Grey.

Woods battled on the boards and somehow managed a putback even while getting upended on the play.

Sosa went coast-to-coast off a steal to open up a 39-30 advantage, but Oxford wasn’t going anywhere.

Oxford’s (1-5) Molly Sastram scored eight of her 16 points in the final quarter, and when her shot off the window rippled the net it was a 41-39 Naugy lead.

With 1:38 to play, Rotatori drove the lane and was battered to the floor. Rotatori was shaken up on the play and Cheney went to her bench and called on Hailey Russell. In a now-or-never moment, the young sophomore calmly made the pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game.

The Greyhounds held on for the four-point victory.

“We had a few players step up when it mattered the most,” Cheney said. “Alexis battled for a putback, and then Hailey comes off the bench and hits two crucial foul shots.”

Naugatuck will head to Bristol play St. Paul (5-1) on Wednesday. The Greyhounds will finish out the week on Friday at Woodland (3-2).

“We have our work cut out for us facing St. Paul coming up,” Cheney said. “But we are in good shape at 4-1 to start the new year, and we are doing it by playing team basketball.”