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Rare Reminder - Newington, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, Cromwell, Middletown CT Sports Corner
Sports Corner
Newington Girls Basketball Gets Defensive
NEWINGTON - Good defense in basketball will tame a rowdy crowd on the road. A great defense can silence that same crowd. The Newington girls basketball team turned New Britain High School into its defensive playground during the third quarter last Tuesday. The smothering defense silenced the home crowd and propelled the Indians to a 46-32 road victory over their CCC-West rival Golden Hurricanes. It was Newington’s third-straight victory over New Britain and marked the first time this season that the Indians have won consecutive games. “We learned some things about ourselves tonight,” Newington head coach Rick Bangs said. “We’ve learned things in each game this season, but tonight we learned that we can win with our defense.” The teams battled to a hectic pace through the first two quarters, as both teams utilized fierce full-court press defenses for most of the first 16 minutes. Newington held a 26-24 halftime advantage before cranking up the defensive intensity coming out of the break. “For the first time all year I tried to mix defenses and it looked good at times, but the coaching staff and I noticed that we were overcommitting to one side defensively, allowing them to get ball reversals and open shots in the first half. We tried to get away from that in the second half,” the second-year coach added. “We really wanted to commit to defense in the second half because that’s what gets our team going. Everything works when our defense is working.” The stingy and swarming defense held the home team to a measly two points in the third quarter and eight points total in the second half. Amy Blair led the defensive charge and was consistently grabbing rebounds, blocking shots, and stealing passes during the second half. During a 6-0 run early in the fourth quarter--which broke the game open--the senior had a block, steal and both an offensive and defensive rebound. “Amy is very athletic and she plays with a lot of energy,” Bangs said about the senior guard. “She creates havoc out on the defensive end and can do so many things well on the court.” The Newington offense followed Blair’s lead and heated up in the fourth quarter. Abrial Murray led all scorers with 14 points, including 11 in the final and decisive quarter. The sophomore guard channeled her inner-Becky Hammon, going a perfect eight-for-eight from the free-throw line, all in the fourth quarter. Murray also drained a backbreaking three pointer, which extended the Indians lead to 35-26 midway through the final quarter. The three came off of a well-designed play that Bangs called during a Newington timeout. Murray led a Newington offensive that was extremely well balanced. She was one of nine players who scored. The balanced scoring symbolized the type of basketball that Bangs is trying to implement. “Our team is not about one person. We’re about playing as a team and playing together,” said Bangs. “In order to succeed, we need to get everybody to work hard and we need every player to do their job. Our whole team has worked so hard this season and we have nine girls that contribute. We try to communicate everyone’s job to them so that they are able to play their best. Tonight we had a couple of layups just from keeping the ball alive. Those are the momentum plays that in basketball lead to other positive plays. One player sees that happening and they all want to start doing that.” The loss kept New Britain winless in the conference and dropped the team to 3-7 overall. Sophomore Dejia Santana helped the Hurricanes stay competitive, scoring a team-high 10 points. She scored back to back buckets after Murray’s fourth-quarter three, but the road team closed the game on an 11-2 run. Newington now takes their dominant defensive to West Hartford for another conference showdown against Northwest Catholic this Friday night. Northwest has won the past three contests in the series, but this will be the team’s first meeting this season. The game tips at 7 p.m.
STORY BY JOSH HOWARD  |  Jan 21 2015