Hurricanes putting wins together, nearing postseason berth after challenging start to season

Published on Sunday, 30 January 2022 20:45
Written by MATT HORNICK

@MNHornick

NEW BRITAIN ― New Britain girls basketball is on a roll.

After starting the season 1-5, the Hurricanes won five of their last six games and are now one win away from qualifying for the state tournament. Their most recent win came in a 43-22 defeat of Plainville on Friday, in which they shut out the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter.

Since beating Platt on Jan. 18, which ignited a three-game winning streak, New Britain’s confidence and cohesion are growing rapidly as it learns how to play well together and win as a team. The Hurricanes are averaging 46.4 points per game in their last five games after scoring 35.6 points in their first six contests.

“We’re starting to get a better feel for our offense,” head coach Beryl Piper said. “Especially [against] man-to-man such as driving and doing the things we need to do. When we spread it out, if they’re defending in man, it’s hard for people to defend us. Against zone, we have weapons to shoot the ball and all that makes a difference.”

Nearly half of New Britain’s points against Plainville came from behind the arc, as senior guard Xandra Silva drilled five three-pointers to combat the Blue Devils’ zone defense. Fellow senior Layla Mejia also knocked down a pair of triples and was the only other Hurricane to score from long range, but Piper said she has faith in several of her players to make outside shots.

The Hurricanes are not trying to shoot that many threes in a game, but are now more comfortable playing within the flow of the game. They want to initiate their offense with drives to the basket, which sometimes creates open shots on the outside, but having 10 games played together gives them a better understanding of how to move the ball and manufacture points no matter how their opponent is playing defense.

“I think we’ve just been communicating more and trusting each other more,” Silva said. “In the beginning of the season it was a little rough, we were still getting used to each other. Now we’re just clicking and we have our chemistry there now.”

While growing together by beating the opponents it is supposed to, New Britain is also playing its best during its most challenging moments. The Hurricanes posted their highest scoring total of the season to defeat a talented Manchester team 66-64 to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

“Our defense has been more aggressive lately,” Silva said. “We’ve just been going for steals and boxing out so our defense has been playing a big part in our wins.”

After besting Lewis Mills for a third-straight win, they nearly handed Enfield (13-1) its second loss of the season. New Britain held a six-point lead entering the final three minutes of the game, but failed to hang on after missing eight of nine free throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

The Hurricanes’ poor foul-shooting was additionally painful because they opened the game by making nine of 10 free throws in the first half. Piper said that loss had several moments to learn from and she fully expects her players to download each of those lessons because that game also showed her how much they believe in themselves.

“These kids are competitive,” Piper said. “When we lost to Enfield, they were mad. They were angry at the end of the game and I think that shows they believe we can beat that team and we should’ve beat that team. I think they know they can play with anybody and that’s the kind of attitude you want to have going into the game and going into this part of the season.”

Originally slated to face Bloomfield on Monday, New Britain now has to wait until Wednesday for their next contest when it hosts South Windsor (3-7) as Bloomfield forfeited the second half of its season. Despite having a losing record, South Windsor’s size will pose another challenge for the Hurricanes as they have the opportunity to have a state-tournament berth locked up by the end of the week.

“We just have to come out and play and I think we have to be focused against any team,” Piper said.

Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or mhornick@bristolpress.com.



Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Sunday, 30 January 2022 20:45. Updated: Sunday, 30 January 2022 20:47.