The GHS girls’ basketball team poses after defeating Bristol Eastern 51-26 on Jan. 9. All 11 players played in the win, which was the team’s eight straight and they made it nine in a row by defeating Conard last Friday, avenging a loss from earlier in the season. Entering the week, the team stands at 9-2. Photo credit – Glastonbury Sports Photography.
After starting the season with a pair of losses, the girls’ basketball team at Glastonbury High School entered this week on a nine-game winning streak.
The Guardians made it eight straight on Jan. 9, defeating Bristol Eastern 51-26 at GHS in the team’s first home game in 19 days.
“The girls practice hard every single day and we are now repairing the benefits of getting better and better,” head coach Chris Vozzolo said. “Those hard practices are starting to pay off and we are starting to execute a little better. We are a little more in tune with each other, both defensively and offensively.”
In the convincing win over Bristol Eastern, the Guardians used a 21-3 scoring run that spanned the first and second quarters to take control of the game before coasting to a victory in the second half.
After missing several easy chances over the first six minutes of the game and falling behind 7-1, the Guardians offense ignited following a three-pointer from sophomore Madison Handrahan with 2:44 left in the first quarter.
Handrahan’s triple sparked a 9-0 run, highlighted by a pair of contested layups from Lily Woodworth and four more points from Handrahan.
After playing a major role as a freshman, Vozzolo said that Handrahan has further expanded her game this winter, noting her improved decision making.
“Her basketball IQ is starting to gel with the rest of the team. She puts herself in good spots and is a natural scorer,” added Vozzolo. “I’m happy to see her confidence growing. She is taking care of the basketball and making plays.”
The Guardians press defense, led by senior captain Alyssa Healy, gave Bristol Eastern fits, particularly the second quarter.
The Lancers turned the ball over a dozen times in the first 16 minutes of the game with the Guardians causing nine of those turnovers with steals.
“We’ve changed defenses a bunch to mess the other teams up and we like to turn that into our offense,” said Healy. “We got a bunch of great shots early on that weren’t falling, but we know what we can do on offense and we just kept doing it and it worked in the end.”
With a 33-18 advantage at the half, senior Diekolola Awofala extended the margin by leading a 10-0 scoring run in the first few minutes of the third quarter. Awofala scored or assisted on all ten points, scoring eight points and setting up Handrahan for a layup.
On the opening possession of the second half, the chemistry of the Guardians offense was on full display as all five Glastonbury players touched the ball before Awofala scored with a strong finish in the paint.
Awofala also helped limit Bristol Easterns’ freshman standout Autumn Udoh, who was held scoreless in the second half after posting a team-high 11 points in the first half.
Vozzolo said that Awofala has been working tirelessly with assistant coach Tim Bosworth and the results are showing on the court.
“She has definitely become a presence. She has been also been a great leader for us,” added Vozzolo. “We were happy to see her come out in the second half and give us that boost we needed.”
With a lead that ballooned to as much as 25-points in the second half, Vozzolo was able to play all 11 players, with seven Guardians scoring in the win.
Handrahan led the team with 18 points and Woodworth added 16. Awofala (10), Healy (2), Cora Cwiertniewicz (2), Justine Ross (2), and Julen Astiasaran (1) also chipped in.
Four nights later, the Guardians made it nine-straight wins by beating Conard 35-32. The win avenged a loss to the Red Wolves in West Hartford on Dec. 16.
Entering the week, Glastonbury is 9-2 and hasn’t lost since that mid-December defeat to Conard
“The girls are playing well; they are feeling confident,” Vozzolo said after the Bristol Eastern game.
After losing only two seniors to graduation a season ago, Healy said that the returning players are comfortable on the court because of the extensive experiences they gained a year ago.
“The team chemistry is just getting better and better,” added Healy. “Our communication is just amazing right now.”
Next up is a tough test against conference rival Newington this Friday, Jan. 20 at GHS. Tip-off is 6:45 p.m.
GHS junior Lily Woodworth is defended by Bristol Eastern’s Vanessa Drury during the Guardians 25-point win over the visiting Lancers last Monday. Woodworth scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half as the Guardians rolled to victory.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin