WINSTED — Defending Berkshire League girls basketball champion Northwestern’s 56-25 win over Wamogo at home Tuesday night was less a game for both teams than a study of what the Highlanders (10-1; 8-1 BL) do right and what the Warriors (3-8; 2-7 BL) might aspire to.
“They’re disciplined on offense and defense, one through 10,” Warriors coach Kerri Stolle said. “They know the system and they run it well.”
“The kids buy into whatever we’re asking them to do,” said veteran Northwestern coach Fred Williams, whose teams contend for Berkshire League titles and more every year.
“In past years, maybe we haven’t pressed enough,” said Williams, famous for his match-up zone, along with low scores. “This year, we have enough depth so we can press. It gets their adrenaline going (along with higher-than-usual scoring).”
Northwestern’s sole loss halfway through the regular season came at undefeated Housatonic 57-52 on Jan. 2.
“The game was not well-played by us,” Williams said. “We shot poorly and we had 30 turnovers. But give Housatonic some of the credit for our poor play.”
Tuesday was a chance to work on it.
A three by Wamogo’s Sammy Brady earned the only Warrior lead early in the game. Then Northwestern’s loose press and half-court ball-hawking went to work.
Emma Propfe (game-high 15 points), Northwestern’s only senior starter, made the first of her four steals, cashing it in on a three-point play.
“This year and last year, there’s been no one standout person,” Propfe said. “We just all work on making good screens and good passes.”
Seconds later, junior guard Skylar DiMartino (14 points, 3 steals) upped the adrenaline with an end-to-end race to the hoop for the second of 24 Highlander baskets without a three-point shot.
“If we’re not shooting well, we concentrate on screening for each other,” DiMartino said.
Junior forward Jana Sanden (7 rebounds) followed with another Highlander steal and the rout was on in points and adrenaline.
Wamogo’s Lexi Weik and Paige Mitchell battled for a combined 15 rebounds, but scoring was a Highlander avalanche.
Propfe made the next two baskets, sandwiched around a DiMartino steal.
Junior forward Natalie Lederman (10 points) finished the quarter with four straight baskets underneath, interrupted only by a corner three by Wamogo’s Mitchell.
“They’re spreading you out and then they’re isolating you,” Stolle said at the half.
“We’re cooperating and working together as a unit,” Lederman said.
The score was 19-6 at the end of the first period and only got worse for the Warriors until Williams cleared his bench in the final period.
For Stolle and her team, lessons are one thing, making them stick is another.
“We work on basketball all the time,” Lederman said.
Wamogo plays Northwestern again in the last game of the regular season, two days after the Highlanders have another crack at Housatonic, this time at Northwestern.
NORTHWESTERN 56, WAMOGO 25
WAMOGO (3-8; 2-7 BL)
Lexi Weik 0-2-2; Paige Mitchell 3-0-8; Sammy Brady 1-0-3; Cassidy Wilson 1-2-4; Justine Lago 3-0-6; Rita Dziedzic 1-0-2; Totals: 9-4-25.
NORTHWESTERN (10-1; 8-1 BL)
Frankie DeSanti 0-1-1; Natalie Munson 1-0-2; Skylar DiMartino 5-4-14; Emma Propfe 6-3-15; Emily Muson 2-0-4; Harley Jasmin 2-0-4; Natalie Lederman 5-0-10; Jana Sanden 3-0-6; Totals: 24-8-56.
WAMOGO 6 3 2 14—25
NORTHWESTERN 19 17 12 8—56
3-point goals: W — Mitchell 2; Brady.