NEW BRITAIN – Southington girls basketball downed New Britain girls basketball Friday night in a 49-33 final, moving the Blue Knights to 2-0 on the season and the Hurricanes to 0-2.
The Hurricanes got out to an early lead in the first quarter, leading 13-8 through the first frame, but New Britain couldn’t hold the advantage as a resilient Southington team worked its way into the driver’s seat.
An 8-0 run through the second quarter supplemented by Southington’s Haily Zembrzuski and Gabby Dangelo helped bring the Blue Knights into the lead at 18-15.
The tandem each finished with 11 points, with Lily Cooper leading the Blue Knights in scoring with 12 points. Cooper and Dangelo closed out the first half with Southington on 5-0 run to enter intermission ahead 25-20.
From there, the lead never shrunk to less than five as Southington continued to find its groove on the court. Another run, this time primarily from Cooper, shot Southington out ahead at 39-23 before the close of the third quarter.
New Britain scored only once from the field and converted on three free throw attempts in the fourth quarter while the Blue Knights emptied the bench up big.
Southington’s full-court pressure was one of the main keys to throwing New Britain out of rhythm early on, limiting its chances to run the court in transition and score quickly.
"They started to pressure us and their pressure sped us up and made us make mistakes,” said New Britain girls head coach Beryl Piper. “It took away our running game, where we wanted to be able to push the ball up the floor and score in transition and do that kind of stuff. ... It took away the fast break, their 2-2-1 pressure, but it also made us try to go too fast with our passes. We had 20 turnovers, and I told the girls that's 20 extra possessions we gave (Southington) tonight. We've got to take care of the basketball."
Leading in scoring for New Britain was Kiatyanna Denmark with 12 points. Behind her on the scorebook was Layla-Faith Mejia with 11 points
Southington head coach Howard Hewitt was overly impressed with how his team performed Friday. A team that is mainly underclassmen with limited experience among upperclassmen, he worked a healthy mix of role players into the lineup to make the night a team effort.
"(I’m) more than impressed. It's just absolutely awesome,” said Hewitt. “... We expect a lot out of these kids because we believe they can handle it. ... It's going to be a work in progress, but as we work through the progress, we're confident with the kids. We made some big plays at times, blue collar plays like offensive rebounds, stepping into the passing lanes, good traps. ... It was 10 or 11 girls playing hard [was why we won.]"
Next up for New Britain is a tilt against Hartford Public on Monday. Tip off from Hartford Public’s Field House comes at 5:30 p.m.
Southington’s next game comes Monday, against South Windsor. The Blue Knights will be staying home, with tip in Southington coming at 6:45 p.m.