Glastonbury High School senior Gisel Astiasaran sets to launch a 3-point shot in a win over Northwest Catholic last Thursday at GHS. Astiasaran made the shot, which was part of a 9-0 Guardians scoring run in the fourth quarter.
For the second time in as many weeks, Glastonbury girls’ basketball got revenge on a conference opponent.
Sophomore guard Maddy Handrahan scored a career-high 27 points as the Guardians rallied to defeat Northwest Catholic 52-48 at GHS on Jan. 26.
It was the team’s 12th win in the last 13 games.
After starting the season with consecutive losses to Conard and Northwest Catholic in December, Glastonbury defeated each of the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) foes in the January rematches.
“We are executing a little better than we were early in the season and some of the girls have more defined roles now,” head coach Chris Vozzolo said.
After being held to two points in the first quarter, Handrahan caught fire over the next three quarters, scoring at will and taking over during a second half rally that saw the Guardians outscore the visiting Lions 17-12 in the decisive fourth quarter.
Handrahan said the team knew they would have to be better in the second half to defeat a Northwest Catholic team that downed the Guardians 39-34 in the season opener on Dec. 13.
“It was hard coming off two losses to begin the season, but we knew it wouldn't be the same the rest of the season,” said Handrahan. “It was the first game of the season, but it was their first game of the season too so it is no excuse. Last time we let it go in the second half so we really wanted to emphasize the second half.”
Trailing 40-37 early in the fourth quarter, Glastonbury heated up from beyond the arc and knocked down three constructive 3-pointers during a 9-0 run midway through final frame.
Lily Woodworth canned a triple to tie the game before Handrahan hit a contested step back three with 5:10 left in regulation, giving the Guardians their first lead since early in the second quarter.
On the following possession, Gisel Astiasaran sank a 3-pointer to increase the Guardians lead 46-40 before clutch foul shooting and a stiff defense secured the victory.
Astiasaran, a senior, scored five of her nine points in the fourth quarter.
Vozzolo called Astiasaran the team’s “Swiss army knife.”
“Gisel is an unbelievable kid and she is super intuitive,” added Vozzolo. “She makes plays at the right times”
One of the biggest differences in the rematch wins over Conard and Northwest Catholic was the team’s ability to play well down the stretch.
In the fourth quarter against Northwest Catholic, the Guardians made six of eight free throws and created turnovers in crucial moments.
Vozzolo said these tightly-contest games are great preparation for postseason play.
“I’m proud of our girls for gritting it out.” added Vozzolo. “A win like this is necessary and it will help us down the road. It really prepares us for a tough CCC tourney and a very tough LL tournament.”
Handrahan agreed, saying the team puts in extra work in practice for these types of games.
“It’s good for us to get these really close games,” added Handrahan, who hit four three-pointers. “The fourth quarter should be our strongest quarter; we should be just as strong in the fourth as we are in the first. We just have to that same work ethic and be smart and take good shots.”
Handrahan provided a bulk of the offense, yet said it was the team’s defensive effort that sealed the game. She credited senior teammates Diekolola Awofala and Alyssa Healy for limiting Northwest Catholic’s dynamic freshman tandem of Maeve Staunton and Abby Casper, who were both held under their season scoring averages against Glastonbury.
After playing a big role as a freshman, Handrahan has taken her game to another level this winter. She said she was thankful for 2022-graduates and last year’s captains Kiley Feeney and Sydney Kehl for showing her the ropes and allowing her to play through some freshman jitters.
“We had amazing seniors and I was so lucky how my teammates took me in so quickly,” added Handrahan, who said the best part of the team this season is the unity. “Everyone has a role on this team. This is a really good win for us.”
After defeating Middletown (61-35) on Monday, the Guardians stand at 13-3 with a game at Wethersfield High School slated for Friday, Feb. 3. Tip-off is 6:45.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin