NEW BRITAIN - Early on Friday night, it didn't seem like Southington girls basketball had the touch against New Britain.
A few missed shots and struggles in filling the lane under the basket led to New Britain taking an early lead through the first quarter. But, as all good teams do, the Blue Knights found a way to adjust and fix their issues and turned it around en route to a 49-33 win.
Southington trotted out five freshmen on to the court across the game. Blue Knights head coach Howard Hewitt said the youth mixed with limited upperclassmen experience led to some indecisive shooting for the Blue Knights through the first quarter, causing them to trail early at 13-8.
"We're almost unselfish to a fault. I called a time out early and told the girls we can't possibly win a game if nobody shoots the ball," said Hewitt. "We came out not 100%, which is a bit my fault. This is new to most of them. ... For them, first away game, all kinds of crazy stuff involves that."
Defensively, adjustments came in implementing a press that New Britain struggled to counter (see accompanying story). Once the defense was working, Southington was able to force turnovers in the front court to help create an 8-0 run, taking the lead and never looking back.
With Southington playing the full length of the court, cycling in the bench was big for the Blue Knights.
"We want to play 10 girls like that. ... We hope we can make a difference wearing (the opponent) down like that," said Hewitt.
Wearing down New Britain was exactly what Southington did on Friday as the Blue Knights continued to pull away, even with New Britain putting together a small run of points across the second half.
Expectations to keep that level of play going are present, and Hewitt feels it's possible to keep it going as long as the girls continue to keep working hard and improve.
"We expect a lot out of these kids, because we believe they can handle it," said Hewitt. "... We're a tenth of the way through our man-to-man offense and we're getting better at it. We're evolving. So many kids did some things (Friday) that they haven't really done. It's going to be a work in progress. ... It's not like we came down and shot 11 or 12 threes and won. It was 10 or 11 girls playing hard."
With the season still young, and the Blue Knights sitting at 2-0 as of Monday morning, Hewitt won't say "how far out" the team is from making a serious push at a Central Connecticut Conference title, instead pointing to playing every day and hoping the girls buy into what the program is preaching.
As of now, Hewitt feels a team that carries seven freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors and one senior is buying in already.
"We have all the confidence in the world. We really do," said Hewitt. "I would tell you if we were a year away (from competing for a conference title), [but] I don't really like to use that phrase. ... We just go out and play as basketball players and hope they want to grow with us. They've shown that they do, they really do."