The Naugatuck and Woodland girls basketball teams may have taken different roads this season, but they appear to be headed for the same destination — the postseason.
Naugatuck went 3-3 the last six games to climb to 6-9 and two games away from securing a bid in the Class L state tournament. Woodland sports a 7-7 ledger and is one game off the pace of qualifying for the Class M state tournament.
Woodland and Naugatuck are also among a handful of teams fighting for the final two spots in the NVL tournament. The top eight teams in the league make the tourney.
The Greyhounds have left their fair share of games on the court, as they try to weave a group of experienced players with a group of up-and-coming underclassmen to form a unit capable of competing in the postseason.
The Hawks have struggled offensively at times, losing four games by a handful of points after holding a lead at the half. Those inconsistencies have turned a possible 11-2 campaign into a .500 season so far.
Woodland scored just ten points in the second half of a 50-46 loss to East Lyme after holding a 14 point lead at the half. The Hawks shook it off and rattled off three wins in a row, including an overtime thriller against Wolcott, 63-57, on Jan. 25. The Hawks then suffered a one-point setback, 39-38, to Crosby Jan. 27 as they only put up 12 points in the second half.
“We had opportunities but we just couldn’t get our shots to fall,” Woodland head coach Jess Moffo said. “We just came off a great game where we won against Wolcott in overtime and then we struggled on offense.”
The Hawks have three consistent scorers in Morina Bojka, Maddie Hupprich and Eliza Smith. Jenna Pannone has been an influence on the boards and Haley Andrews has done the job bringing the ball up court.
The depth of the Hawks has shown with Cam Johnson and Meg Sirowich lending experience, and underclassmen Hana Bojka and Jill Barbarito have found the scoring column, as well.
“We need to take better care of the ball when our offense isn’t going so well,” Moffo said. “Sometimes we tend to get a little impatient and that’s when turnovers at crucial points of the game make things worse.”
Morina Bojka led the way with 26 points, including six of the Hawks’ eight points in the extra session, in the overtime win over Wolcott. Smith threw down 17 points and Hupprich added 14 points.
On Monday, the Hawks got out to a 12-9 lead at Holy Cross before the inconsistencies surfaced and the Crusaders pulled away for a 63-44 win. Bojka led the way with 15 points and Hupprich added 11 points. Andrews and Smith had six points each.
The Greyhounds have been led by Molly Kennedy, who had a career-high 32 points in a 55-27 win over Derby on Jan. 27.
Naugatuck is starting to show some versatility on offense. Alyana Sosa had eight points, Shannon Burns had seven points, and Haley Deitelbaum added five points in a 43-35 win over Wolcott on Jan. 18.
“We are starting to see some of those earlier mistakes go away,” Naugatuck head coach Ron Plasky said. “We are gaining some consistency, especially in our offense.
“Some of the younger players are stepping up, like Shannon Burns and Mia Rotatori. Of course Molly Kennedy is our leader on offense and we are making some progress. But we are still having trouble when teams come after us we don’t fight back. That showed when we went up to Torrington. But that is a hard place to play and that is where we miss Alyssa Peterson. She was tough enough that when teams pushed she would push back.”
Seniors Michelle Cordova and Katie Jones are providing leadership capacity and freshmen Brielle Behuniak, Alissa McNeil and Hailey Russell continue to develop and give the Greyhounds some depth.
The inside game of Alexis Woods and Bridget Rosikiewicz helps Naugy to be competitive.
Naugatuck will play Ansonia on Wednesday, while Woodland plays Watertown tonight. The quest for the postseason continues for both teams on Friday as Naugatuck travels to Beacon Falls to take on Woodland at the Hawks Nest.