By John Goralski
Last season, a lopsided loss to Suffield gave the Lady Knights a lot to think about at the turn of the calendar. It spiraled the team below .500 for the first time that season. It capped a three game losing streak at the end of the year that set the stage for everything that followed.
The Southington girls didn’t forget the lesson. On Friday, Dec. 28, the Lady Knights returned the favor with a 51-24 win to push themselves back to .500. If last year’s loss killed the team’s momentum, Coach Mike Forgione hopes that this year’s win will spark it.
“Suffield lost two all-state players to graduation, so we knew that they were going to be young,” said the coach. “I told the kids that we needed to pressure them right away. We needed to go at them, and we did that.”
Mission accomplished. The Lady Knights blitzed the young Wildcats, and Suffield managed just one point in the first quarter. Southington smothered them in the second quarter and ran to a 17-point lead at the break. The steel curtain defense held the Wildcats under 20 percent shooting for the game, and Southington responded with one of their best shooting performances of the early season.
“We want to play an uptempo style,” said Forgione. “I think it’s the most effective style for our team. It causes us to keep moving and being aggressive. No matter who we play, we’re going to attack them and take our best shot. I think the kids enjoy playing that style, and it’s certainly the most effective considering our personell.”
On the other end of the court, Danielle Charamut led the charge. The senior co-captain scored 13 points with 16 rebounds and four blocked shots. Natalie Wadolowski added 10 points with six rebounds, and the Knights never trailed.
The seniors anchored the defense as well. Maeghan Chapman (7 points) collected 10 rebounds with 4 steals, and two blocks. Stephanie O’Keefe scored just one basket, but led the fast break with five assists and trapped Suffield’s guards to come away with six of the team’s 16 steals.
“We need all three seniors to be in that 10-13 point range,” said the coach. “We don’t have anybody that’s going to score 30 points each night, but if everybody does their job and contributes on the offensive end, we can be tough against any team in our conference.”
Southington showed its depth. Nicole Fischer scored seven points. Nine Lady Knights contributed to the scoring, and Southington improved to 3-3 with the win. Forgione said that it was a good response to the poor shooting the game before, and he hopes to build on it with the new year.
“If you think you’re better than a team, you have to attack them and take it to them. We did that tonight,” he said. “Now, we have a big stretch with three games next week-Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We still have to do a better job finishing our layups and making our foul shots, but that’s what it always boils down to—foul shots, layups, playing good defense, and boxing out. We did that tonight.”
The lopsided contest allowed Forgione to empty his bench in the second half, and he said he was pleased with their efforts. That will have to continue if the Knights are going to navigate January’s conference schedule.
“We’re trying to incorporate some of the younger kids, and I always tell them that you can’t hide in basketball. When you’re on that court, whether it’s JV or varsity, you’ve got to leave it all out there. We’re getting better every day.”
To comment on this story, contact sports writer John Goralski or email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.