SOUTHINGTON - On the defensive end of the floor, the Southington girls basketball team played tough against a more experienced Glastonbury team, holding the Tomahawks to 39 points Monday night.
But it was on the offensive end where the inexperienced Blue Knights players struggled mightily.
Outside of its primary scorer, senior captain Janette Wadolowski, who put up 21 points, Southington’s secondary scorers were held to eight points in four quarters leading to the 39-29 loss.
“You can’t score 29 points in a game and expect to win,” Southington head coach Mike Forgione said. “We talked about focusing and finishing our shots. We just could never really get into a rhythm where we could be consistent knocking down some shots and getting in a flow. That’s what really hurt us [Monday].”
The Blue Knights rotation runs eight players deep, consisting of three freshmen, three sophomores, one junior and Wadolowski.
Junior Kristen Longley is a reserve for Southington.
Three games in, one freshman, Alli Carr, has shown signs of progress but the team needs more. Carr scored six of the team’s remaining eight points against Glastonbury and came out attacking the Tomahawks zone defense off the dribble leading to four points in the first quarter.
“I think we let ourselves down really,” Carr said. “And it got to us and affected us in the end.”
The ineffectiveness on the offensive end of the floor has given the Blue Knights (1-2) their worst start since the 2010-11 campaign and the past three seasons, Southington have been stellar with a combined record of 43-17.
“We’ve been on top for the last three years and now obviously we’re not,” Forgione said. “Someone else has to step up and be a leader. Just because you’re an underclassmen doesn’t mean you can’t be a vocal leader on the floor. I think Alli does try. She’s shown me some heart. I just need other girls to also step up. They’re really great kids, but they just have to play with passion.”
Still early in the season, the experienced Wadolowski has seen improvement in the young group and is expecting a turnaround in her final year on the court.
“They’re actually doing much better than what I was expecting, “Wadolowski said. “We’re really coming together every game, win or lose. I can see us bonding more and getting used to how each other play, which will help us out in the long run.
“Yes, it’s a little frustrating sometimes but this happens to everyone. It happened to me so I understand it, but we’re getting there and I think it’s going to be good from here on out.”
A positive takeaway for the Blue Knights, however, was on defense, especially when they played man-to-man defense.
The second quarter especially showed signs of a defense that has potential to hold opposing teams to low point totals. Southington held Glastonbury to a mere four points in the eight minute span. The Blue Knights again limited the Tomahawks to single digits in the fourth, allowing just nine.
“We were really focusing on defense,” Wadolowski said. “If we can stop them on defense, then we can’t lose. We know that [Glastonbury] has a good offense and they’re really quick, so we really tried to get in front of them. We did that for most of the game but at the end they just pulled away.”
Forgione, who also serves as an assistant coach for the football team, knows it may take some time with the young group and with the success in recent years for the Blue Knights program, expectations are high, something the young players need to get acclimated to.
And after Monday’s game, he related the two sports to try to instill confidence and fight in his inexperienced players.
“I told them to go home and think about how bad they want to bring those intangibles to practice,” Forgione said. “That desire, that heart, that hustle and that determination. Hopefully they will.”
Southington will get a chance to show a different mentality Thursday night as it travels to take on unbeaten Farmington (4-0).
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org