NEW BRITAIN – New Britain girls basketball showed flashes of how successful it can be Friday night, but quickly in its game against Southington the Hurricanes saw their weakness get exploited.
Leading 13-8 through the first quarter, New Britain saw Southington implement a pressing defense that helped the Blue Knights run off an 8-0 run to take the lead. The lead was never surrendered as Southington went on to win 49-33, improving to 2-0.
The press was incorporated on and off throughout the night in the gameplan, and stifled much of New Britain's offense. Through the first quarter the Hurricanes were successful in pushing the floor with speed, winning in transition to get to the basket for scores, but once the Blue Knights brought two or three players into the frontcourt New Britain became overwhelmed and forced passes into turnovers.
Pacing and its transition game slowed for the Hurricanes, with head coach Beryl Piper saying it hurt the team.
"We got out of sorts," said Piper. "Running was really good for us and when we needed to slow it down and chill out a little bit, we struggled. There was some moments where we slowed down and did the right thing and we got good shots. We have to learn from that, that hurt us a lot."
Adjusting to the press on the fly with a lot of young players proved to be difficult. With point guard Adrianna Faienza handing the ball in the backcourt for most possessions the Hurricanes failed to find themselves in the right position to break the press and create a scoring chance easily.
"We did not execute our press break well at all," said Piper. "We didn't have people in the middle of the floor when we needed people in the middle of the floor, so we didn't have really good support for us to break the press. When we were where we needed to be we broke the press OK, we just had a lot of moments where we weren't needing to be. ... We've just got to keep working on it. Even with our scrimmages, we struggled a bit with the pressure and we've been working on it."
Piper said there was progress earlier in the week leading into Friday's game with working against the press, but the progressions didn't translate to game time.
"(Thursday) in practice I thought we were doing better with it. We started to understand a little bit more about moving the ball with the pass and not so much the dribble. ... (Friday) there was moments where we weren't even in our press break and kids were just running all over the place."
Piper acknowledges the fact it's still early in the season. Friday's loss moved the Hurricanes to 2-0 on the season, and with plenty of season left there's going to be an abundance of opportunities to learn how to beat their weakness and become a better team.
Piper knows they're capable of it, and it comes down to decision making when the moment presents itself.
"It's just something we've got to keep working on. It's game two. It's a long season," said Piper. "... We have the athletes to be able to break the press and score, we just have to be able to slow it down and make the right decisions."
Moving forward, the Hurricanes have the similar hopes as every other team in the Central Connecticut Conference - to compete for a top spot. But at the moment, it's working on building more team chemistry and improving each time out to build a better brand of basketball.
"Like everybody, you want to come out and win the conference," said Piper. "Everybody has that expectation. I think for us it's one game at a time and trying to get better, improve and get a feel for each other. ... We've got to be ready to play.
MONDAY NIGHT WIN
HARTFORD - The New Britain girls basketball team picked in a 59-39 win on Monday night, defeating Hartford Public for the first win of the season for the Hurricanes.
Faienza had 10 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in the win. Layla Mejia had three 3-pointers, scoring a team-high 15 points and Kiatyanna Denmark had 10 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Off the bench, Tiajah Cooper had seven rebounds for the Hurricanes.