BRISTOL - The Plainville girls basketball team hasnâ€™t been in this position in quite a while.
At 9-4, the Blue Devils have already qualified for the state tournament and with such a strong start and some goals out of the way, Plainville finds itself in an unfamiliar spot, one that has success at the forefront and a team with both talent and inexperience on the floor.
â€śEight [wins] gave us something to work towards and we did that,â€ť Blue Devils head coach Jessica Neuwiler said. â€śWe wanted to win our holiday tournament and we did that so we saw the early success and the early goals. Now for them, I told them you have an opportunity to still finish the season on such a high. Or we have an opportunity to just feel comfortable with our eight.â€ť
Starting senior guard and captain Izzy Lozefski has missed two games entering the week due to an ankle injury. Lozefski brings experience to the floor as a senior captain.
â€śSheâ€™s doing what she needs to be doing to get back,â€ť Neuwiler said. â€śBut we miss her on the floor absolutely.â€ť
However, junior Caitlin Barker has been one the main reason behind the success.
Barker, who missed last season with a torn ACL, has been the go-to scorer and in Saturdayâ€™s game against Bristol Eastern had 32 of the teamâ€™s 45 points.
As the playoffs approach, finding consistency out of their other players will be crucial for the Blue Devils.
Plainville starts two freshmen - Jaida Vasquez and Krystyna Miller - and brings another freshman off the bench in Kori Jones.
After the loss to Bristol Eastern, Neuwiler left her group with a message.
â€śI had them stay in the locker room and said you guys need to figure out who you want to beâ€ť Neuwiler said. â€śBecause when we play on all cylinders, hustle for every loose ball and do the things that make us successful we look really good.â€ť
But when all is said and done, both Barker and Lozefski will have a big say in how far the Blue Devils can go this season. The rest of the group will play the most important role though, as it takes a team effort to make a run in the tournament.
â€śWeâ€™re trying to figure out how to get better every single day and not let eight [wins] be our story,â€ť Neuwiler said. â€śOur story needs to be a lot more than eight.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org