Naugy turns loss into positive

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Naugatuck High junior Nicole Boucher (34) was leading the basketball team in scoring before a season-ending injury.  –FILE PHOTO
Naugatuck High junior Nicole Boucher (34) was leading the basketball team in scoring before a season-ending injury. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — Taking a quick glance at the final girls NVL basketball standings, one could miss what junior Nicole Boucher meant to the 2-18 Naugatuck Greyhounds. For the coaches around the league, they didn’t miss anything.

Several coaches had Boucher on their ballot for All-Division honors and that speaks volumes of what this junior forward means to Naugatuck basketball.

Boucher was relegated to the bench after suffering a season-ending injury after just seven games. At the time the junior forward was the team’s leading scorer at 11 points per game.

Naugatuck had plenty of varsity experience led by seniors Taylor Campos, Stefanie Flores and Jami Dwy and juniors Jackie Aronin and Andrea Mercer. But, Boucher was the game-changer as the ‘Hounds sought to make a run at the postseason.

Boucher started out scoring 12, 13 and 17 points in the first three games. Teams started to double and triple team her and that opened up shots for the rest of the team.

Then came the injury and the complexion of the Greyhounds game quickly changed.

“She calmed everyone down,” said Naugatuck head coach Jodie Burns. “She gave the team confidence when she was out on the court. When she went out with the injury it opened up more opportunities for the younger players, but the shots were no longer there.”

The Greyhounds turned Boucher’s absence into a positive. Younger players took advantage of their opportunities to grow in their roles and build a foundation for the future.

Aronin scored 77 points this season for a 3.8 average, but there were games of nine points, eight points and seven points that showed her untapped potential.

Mercer scored in 18 of 20 games for 70 points, twice knocking down seven points and four times scoring six points showing her to be a consistent contributor. Junior Alexandra Mezzo became a presence in the paint.

Campos scored in 14 games and twice hit a season-high of eight points. Dwy also scored a season-high of eight points twice with Flores knocking down a season-high of five points.

The upperclassman took on expanded roles, but it was the development of the younger players that laid the foundation for future success.

Sophomore Ashley Daymonde proved to be a take charge kind of player as she scored in 11 games with a season-high of seven points. Freshman Alyana Sosa showed her abilities to bring the ball up court and her quick hands led to several steals.

Freshman Molly Kennedy showed she can be an inside presence and scored 63 points this season with a season-high of 11. Freshman Alyssa Peterson scored in 16 games with 67 points and had a season-high of nine points, and Alexis Woods had a season-high of five points and scored in seven games.

Freshman Bridget Rosikiewicz got a start late in the season and responded with a team-high of 10 points. Sophomores Katie Jones, Michelle Cordova and Abby Jang also saw time on the varsity court.

Boucher also grew this season as her time on the bench allowed her to see the game from a different perspective.

“Seeing the game from the bench has offered me a whole new perspective on the game,” said Boucher, who didn’t miss a game or a practice after the injury.

Boucher said she got to see what the coaches are talking about during games, where she needs to be to make proper cuts to the basket and how defenses react to certain plays.

“It has made me a better student of the game,” she said. “You recognize things that you don’t get to see when the game is going at full speed out on the court. I think this will make me a better player going into next year gaining this knowledge.”

Boucher has also seen the progress the younger Greyhounds made this season.

“Seeing the progress of these younger girls this season has really been a motivation factor for me,” she said. “I can see the potential we will have going into next season, and I’m excited to get back out there.”