NEW BRITAIN - After losing a couple of key players last year, the Goodwin Tech girls basketball team had to find players to step up for this season.
Alyssa Lugo and Tazmaira Baerga paved the way for the Gladiators during their 8-11 season, but now that they’re long gone, who would step up?
The answer, Paola Barbosa and Tanija Russell.
Tuesday night Goodwin Tech had a slow start but overcame O’Brien Tech 43-27 in its first win of the season. Barbosa lead the way for the Gladiators as she scored the game high of 22 points.
The first half was slow for Goodwin Tech, just like the previous night before in its 66-13 loss to Portland. The Gladiators only put up 11 points.
“Our game plan was to play better than we did Monday night,” Goodwin Tech head coach Jeffrey Bemis said. “There wasn’t a positive that we could get out of last night but I know what the girls can do and they came away from that. They got over that loss very quickly, brand new game coming out here and we just wanted to get out and get on a better start and try to get competitive again, try to get our moral up, try to get their confidence up.
After the half, Bemis knew he had to change the pace of play for the Gladiators, how they were playing in the first half wasn’t going to work if they wanted to win.
“I had Russell her playing number one for their team on defense, it was a boxing one,” Bemis said. “We put her man to man with her and she did an outstanding job with it.”
By stopping O’Brien Tech’s outside shooter it gave the Gladiators a chance to come back. By the end of the third quarter Goodwin Tech was tied 27-27 with the Condors.
“We don't have a lot of size,” Bemis said. “We’re very inexperienced underneath the backboard and we can’t rely on our girls to be outstanding shooters all the time. So we have to get our girls that are playing down low in a better situation that’ll help us on the outside”
In the fourth quarter Russell and Barbosa started to pick up the pace offensively.
“They started getting some more shots inside, sort of making some shots on the outside finally.”
The Gladiators went on a 16-0 run closing out the final eight minutes of the game; Barbosa scoring eight of the points in the run.
Although it’s still early on in the season for the Gladiators, they already have their eye on the prize.
“We’re going to get through this season one way or another,” Barbosa said. “But really, we want to make it to states.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860)801-5096 or @ firstname.lastname@example.org