Athlete of the Week: Lola Awofala
GHS senior Lola Awofala defends Trumbull’s senior captain Elizabeth Lynch during the Guardians state tournament win last Friday. Awofala was great on both ends of the court, powering a defense that held Trumbull scoreless in the third quarter.
Senior Lola Awofala did a little of everything as Glastonbury High School girls basketball defeated Trumbull, 38-29, in the second round of the Class LL state tournament at GHS on March 3.
Awofala scored seven points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked four shots as the Guardians used a dominant defensive effort in the second half to eliminate the visiting Lions of Trumbull from the tourney.
Glastonbury, who entered the tournament as the No. 4-seed after finishing the regular season with a record of 17-3, had an extended layoff between games and Awofala said the team remained focused in practice and approached the game with the right mindset against the No. 14 Lions.
“No matter what our regular season was there was always the possibility that we might not continue on the rest of the season, so we wanted to play as hard as we can together,” stated Awofala, who is one of five seniors on the roster.
Trailing 21-20 at the half, the Guardians changed up the defensive strategy entering the second half, which worked to perfection as Trumbull failed to score a single point the third quarter.
“We made a little defensive shift. We got into a compact zone, just to try and switch up some tempo,” said GHS head coach Chris Vozzolo, who credited assistant coach Tim Bosworth with the halftime adjustment. “We certainly didn’t expect to stay in it for 16 minutes, but after we held a good team like Trumbull scoreless, we decided to stick with it. The change in tempo proved to be a good answer.”
Awofala led the surge on both ends of the court after halftime. She scored the first five points of the second half, converting an old-fashioned three-point play and then scoring on a rebound put back on the following offensive possession, giving Glastonbury a 25-21 lead.
She also locked down Trumbull’s senior captain Elizabeth Lynch, who scored the first four points of the game, but was held without a point the rest of the night.
Glastonbury outscored Trumbull 12-0 in the decisive third quarter and Awofala credited the team's defensive connectivity in the zone for securing the scoreless quarter.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” added Awofala. “We had to remember that practice makes progress, not perfect, so let’s keep progressing.”
Sophomore Maddy Handrahan scored a game-high 15 points, including seven straight in the third quarter. Awofala set up Handrahan on a three-pointer midway through the quarter when she received a pass on the right post and immediately fired a pass to Handrahan, who drilled a straight away triple from top of the arc.
Playing the team’s first game in 13 days, it took a while for the Guardians to settle in. They were held without a field goal for the first five minutes of the game until junior Lily Woodworth lifted the lid on the basket by nailing a three-pointer.
As she has done all season, Woodworth sparked Glastonbury off the bench by scoring seven points, all in the first half.
Awofala said team chemistry and a strong support system has been the key to the Guardians success on the court.
“We have a great bond; we love each other so much,” added Awofala. “We lift each other up, and I think we carry that to the court with how we treat each other.”
Vozzolo said that Awofala development this season has been “unbelievable.”
“It’s because she is smart and has all these amazing characteristics,” added Vozzolo. “She is willing to learn and willing to lead.”
After starting the season with consecutive losses, Awofala admitted that her confidence was low.
“I beat myself up and I wasn't as confident as I should be,” recalled Awofala. “It was important for me to turn the page and I think now I’m the most confident that I have been.”
The win over Trumbull was the team’s 19 win in the last 21 games.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin