Seniors #14 Kate Oostendorp, #33 Christina DeNovellis, #12 Alyssa Gau, and Abigail Boutin (not pictured) are leading a girls’ basketball team at Rocky Hill that has a mixture of experience and youth.
For the first 16 minutes, Rocky Hill High School girls’ basketball had undefeated Bacon Academy on the ropes.
The Terriers led by as many as a dozen points in the first half and held a 28-19 advantage at the break before the unbeaten Bobcats rallied over the final 16 minutes to win, 51-45, on Jan. 24 at RHHS.
Rocky Hill head coach James McKinnon called the team’s performance in the first half one of the best they played all season, comparing it to a first half they played against Wethersfield on Dec. 22
“We were looking for the open teammate and we were able to finish. That’s how we practice; we always look for the extra pass,” McKinnon said of the team’s effort in the first half.
Both ends of the court were clicking for the Terriers in the early stages, sharing the ball on offense and causing double-digit turnovers behind a relentless press defense.
Freshman Katie Harding scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the first half and senior Christina DeNovellis scored all six of her points before the break.
Despite the difference in grade level, Harding and DeNovellis have a noticeable rapport on the court.
The connection between the prolific pair was on full display in the second quarter when Harding passed the ball to DeNovellis in the high post before cutting towards the basket and receiving a perfectly placed bounce pass under the bucket to complete the give-and-go, providing the Terriers a 21-9 lead.
Freshman point guard Kelsey LaMay led on offense that assisted on nearly every bucket in the first half.
McKinnon praised LaMay for her ability to run the offense, saying she has stepped right into the role of court general.
“It’s a blessing as a coach. I can sleep easy knowing she is bringing the ball up court,” stated McKinnon, who added that the coaching staff preaches, “The more passes, the more points.”
A 15-2 run to start the second half allowed Bacon to turn the game around and take a lead they would not surrender.
“Their pressure and height got to us,” McKinnon said of the second half. “They are 14-0 for a reason.”
Senior Marissa Nudd, who has committed to play at Southern Connecticut State University, scored 17 to lead the Bobcats, who outscored Rocky Hill 32-17 over the final 16 minutes.
Rocky Hill entered the contests having won 8 of 11 games, which included a six-game winning streak that spanned from Dec. 30 to Jan. 20.
DeNovellis, Alyssa Gau, Kate Oostendorp, and Abigail Boutin are Rocky Hill’s four court captains.
McKinnon called the foursome “pure leaders.”
“They never take a drill off and they do everything we ask of them,” added McKinnon. “They ask the questions that the younger kids don’t want to ask, which helps everyone at practice.”
With a heavy mixture of seniors and freshmen, McKinnon said the team has blended together from having played summer league together.
“It helped build the comradery and connection,” added McKinnon.
Despite the loss to Bacon, McKinnon said the game can go a long way for a program that has 28 total players this winter.
“We are not afraid of anyone. We’ll play anyone, anywhere, anytime,” stated McKinnon.
Rocky Hill closed the week with another tough loss to powerhouse Windsor, 54-33. Freshman Madisyn Aurigemma led the Terriers with a dozen points as the team fell to 8-5 on the season.
Next up is a pair of home games against Hartford Public (Friday, Feb. 3 / 4:40 p.m.) and Newington (Tuesday, Feb. 7 / 6:45 p.m.).
Now in his third year leading the program, McKinnon likes both his current mix and the direction the program is headed.
“This whole group has been a joy to coach. The best part is that I get to teach them every day and they work really hard,” stated McKinnon, who teaches at Griswold Middle School. “I had most of these girls in class in the seventh grade, so it is so great to have them in practice every day and to see them improve.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin