GHS senior Sydney Kehl defends Avon's Adeline Standish during the Guardians 44-29 win on Feb. 1.
With the game tied at eight after the first quarter, Glastonbury girls’ basketball got defensive, holding visiting Avon to three points in the second quarter during a 44-29 victory on Feb. 1.
The Guardians used a 14-3 run, spanning the beginning of the second quarter through the midway point of the third quarter, to break the game open.
Offensively it was a balanced attack with eight players scoring, led by 11 points from junior Gisel Astiasaran.
Avon’s Adeline Standish scored a game-high 14, but only eight after the first quarter.
Seniors Sydney Kehl and Kiley Feeney were tasked with limiting Standish as the Guardians’ swarming zone defense stymied the Falcons, who scored just 21 points following the first quarter.
“We definitely knew about [Standish]. We just tried to focus on staying in front and staying around her. We knew we had to stay straight up and not foul her,” said Kehl, who scored four of her five points in the opening quarter. .
Following the first quarter, the Guardians upped the tempo, playing press and limiting Standish’s touches in the paint.
“We started to play more aggressive,” said Feeney. “Sydney was able to shut [Standish] down and got her in foul trouble.”
Trailing by one early in the second quarter, Astiasaran hauled down an offensive rebound and scored to regain the lead. On the following possession, freshman Madison Handrahan grabbed a defensive rebound before dribbling up court and canning a midrange jumper.
The home team would lead the rest of the way.
Feeney scored seven of her nine in the second half as the Guardians displayed great ball movement with each player touching the ball on nearly every possession. On most possessions, each player had multiple touches.
Both Kehl and Feeney, who are the team’s only seniors, agreed that the offense is at its best when the ball is constantly moving.
Glastonbury cemented the victory by going on a 10-4 run between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth. Astiasaran scored five points during the burst and Alyssa Healy provided a highlight when she grabbed a rebound on the defensive end, quickly dribbled up court and made a perfect pass to Lily Woodworth for a layup.
At the 7:01 mark of the fourth, Kehl and Feeney checked back into the game and put the finishing touches on the win.
Feeney scored on an assist from Skylar Fiske to make the game 35-22 and then had a block that stopped a transition opportunity for Avon.
The Falcons narrowed the deficit to nine with four minutes to play before the Guardians scored eight of the game’s final ten points to wrap up their ninth win of the season.
Prior to the win over Avon, the Guardians defeated Bristol Eastern 41-37, which qualified them for the state tournament.
“We knew we had a young team, so Kiley and I knew we had to be leaders and really communicate,” stated Kehl. “A lot of the girls really didn’t know a lot of the plays, so we knew we had to be more patient with them and be the voice of the team.”
Kehl is the only returning starter from a season ago when the team won 13 of 15 games en route to a conference title.
“Before the season we lost four of the best people to ever go through this program so I knew it was going to be a challenge, but these younger players have stepped up and I’ve been impressed with all of them,” said Kehl.
Feeney said the development of the younger girls has been tremendous, “They bring the effort every day and we’re here to help them.”
Both senior have been impressed with Handrahan, who is playing point guard as a freshman.
“On the first day of tryouts I saw what she could do on the floor. As soon as I saw her I knew she was going to make an impact,” said Kehl.
Feeney added that the team came into the season solely focused on winning and playing “every game like it could be our last.”
On Mon., Feb. 14 the Guardians welcome Simsbury to GHS for the team’s home and regular season finale. The game will tip at 6:45 p.m.
It will be the final tune-up before postseason play begins.
Kehl said she’d like to see the team tighten up defensively, adding, “Defense will win a lot of games.”
“We need effort every minute of every game,” added Feeney.
Sophomore Skylar Fiske gets ready to shoot against Avon's Lindsay Snyder
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin