Strong defense can't help Innovation girls basketball in loss to Achievement First

Published on Tuesday, 6 February 2018 22:42
Written by SHELBY IAVA


NEW BRITAIN - The Innovation girls basketball team got plenty of effort on defense Tuesday night.

The Ravens just couldn’t get the offense to match in its bid to secure a postseason spot.

No Innovation player was able to reach double figures as the Ravens fell to Achievement First 25-16 in a low-scoring game Tuesday on senior night.

Bailee Nardi led Innovation (7-10) with seven points, while Kelsey Walicki added six.

“I think [our defense] is one of the best things that we do,” Ravens head coach Michael Jessie said. “We hunker down and play really good defense, we’ve done that all season. Our defense isn’t what’s hurt us at all. We have to learn how to put the ball in the basket. You can play defense all day, but in the end you still have to put the ball in the basket.”

It was reminiscent of the last meeting between the two teams, which say saw a combined 32 points in a 22-10 Innovation win.

But the Royals struggled just as much at this time around to find the inside of the basket as Donnane Noble led Achievement First with a game-high 10 points.

Noble was the only player to score in double figures.

Most of that had to do with the Ravens’ defensive scheme, particularly what they call the Diamond 42. The diamond shuts down the opponents’ best player, which eliminates their opportunity to score.

“Both teams, I think, have gotten better since the last time we played each other,” Nardi said. “We hustled as much as we could but after missing shots, that’s what it really came down to, it just seemed like the other team wanted it more. We’ll definitely be prepared for our next game but it was just an off night for some of us.”

Despite limiting Achievement First to 10 points over the final half of half, Innovation would only score five points of its own in the last 16 minutes.

Stefany Ferguson and Nardi both went 1-for-2 at the free throw line in the third quarter and in the final quarter, Walicki sank 3.

The first half played out much of the same way with the Ravens attempting to play catch up.

Nardi was able to put the first points up on the board for the Ravens, but not before Achievement First’s Asja Grace-Pearson could knock down a 3. Ferguson then hit the last basket before the quarter could end.

Nardi then made back-to-back baskets to start the second period to give the Ravens a 2-point lead. But that would be the only lead Innovation would have for the rest of the game as the Royals proceeded to go on a 6-0 run toward the end of the half.

Walicki hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 14-11 and Innovation went into the halftime break trailing 15-11 after an Achievement First free throw.

“We worked as hard as we could but definitely had some ups and downs,” Walicki said. “We worked our hardest but unfortunately we didn’t win.”

Shelby Iava can be reached at (860)801-5096 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Innovation on Tuesday, 6 February 2018 22:42. Updated: Tuesday, 6 February 2018 22:44.