By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington girls basketball has a young team that has been going through its struggles. After a rough 46-18 loss against Hall on Jan. 7, the Lady Knight coaching staff looked to simplify things and focus on what’s directly in front of them.
“After having a little tough stretch with the Conard and Hall games, two games [on Jan. 4 and Jan. 7], we had a little bit of a break and didn’t play again until [Jan. 11],” coach Mike Forgione said. “We tried to take a step back and we talked about trying to win quarters and seeing if we could break the game down into four games.”
Southington nearly won the entire first half against Newington on Jan. 11, but the shots wouldn’t fall in the second half. The Indians improved to 10-1 with a 51-36 win. The Knights dropped to 2-7.
Here’s what happened in each game last week:
JAN. 7—The Warriors have been playing much better of late, and they unleashed their improved style of play on the Knights.
Freshman Julia Korp made her first varsity start for Southington and played over 28 minutes, which led the team. Korp is part of the future of the Knights, along with her underclassmen teammates. Korp had two points, two rebounds and two steals in her time on the floor.
Kristen Longley led Southington with five points. Livvy Pizzitola had a team-high six rebounds while Sam Sullivan added five boards. The Knights struggled from the floor, making just 21.4 percent of their shots.
Olivia Deslauriers led Hall with 15 points while Olivia Bonee added 11 points.
Better effort in loss
JAN. 11—The Knights trailed by one point at the end of the first quarter and the end of the first half against the Indians, who came into the game at 9-1.
Southington’s shots were dropping in the first half against Newington. Kelley Marshall sank the first shot the Knights took, a medium-range jumper from the left side. Marshall scored six of her nine points in the first quarter, which Newington led 10-9.
In the second quarter, it was Bri Harris’ turn to get hot. Harris scored all 11 of her team-high point total in the second quarter, including a trio of three-pointers.
“She had that good second quarter that kind of got us going there,” Forgione said.
Harris’ last 3-pointer gave Southington a 20-17 lead and had Newington coach Marc Tancredi holding his hands out in front of him in frustration. The Indians scored the last four points of the quarter to lead 21-20 at halftime.
Newington’s Ashanti Frazier scored 10 of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter as the visitors stretched out their lead. When Frazier hit a 3-pointer practically falling out of bounds in front of some Newington fans to end the third quarter, the Indians led 39-27. Turnovers hurt Southington in the third quarter, and shots that were falling in the first half didn’t in those eight minutes.
“We’re trying,” Forgione said. “The effort’s there, and I think we’re trying to build on some stuff. Just too many mistakes with the ball, too many turnovers, and we’re not aggressive enough on the boards.”
Marshall finished with 11 rebounds while Sam Sullivan tallied four points and eight rebounds off of the bench.
“We’re still not physical enough, and I’ve been struggling with ways to try to get that out of them,” Forgione said. I thought Sam Sullivan did a great job on the boards, I thought for a freshman that she really battled tonight.”
To have more success and taste victory again, Southington will need to do more of what it did early against Newington. The Knights will need to be more aggressive with their ball-handling against pressure and play more physical on the backboards, according to Forgione.
“We got to build on the first half,” Forgione said. We made mistakes in the first half, but we fought and we kept ourselves in it.”
The first half against Newington was a step in the right direction, and Southington needs more like it.
Up next: Southington hosted Suffield on Tuesday in a non-conference game. The Knights played at Northwest Catholic on Thursday.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com