STAMFORD—Progress is great. But when victory is attached to progress that is the best feeling of all.
The Stamford girls basketball team moved a step forward to open 2019 as the Black Knights secured a 44-32 non-league home triumph over Norwich Free Academy Wednesday night before a partisan crowd at Paul Kuczo Gym.
The win improved Stamford to 3-4 overall.
“We had some really good moments to build on. We had other interesting moments we don’t want to repeat,” said Stamford’s veteran coach Diane Burns. “There are things we have to get better at. But it’s all part of the growing process.”
Such is life when you have three freshmen along with other newcomers in your nine-player rotation.
BRIGHT SPOTS FOR STAMFORD
Stamford led from start to finish as the Black Knights’ aggressive press paid early dividends. Stamford led 10-4 after one quarter and 20-11 at halftime.
Stamford was helped by the return of leading scorer Megan Landsiedel, who was out 18 days and missed four games due to shoulder woes.
Despite the expected rust, Landsiedel paced SHS with a game-high 13 points.
Landsiedel’s chemistry and cohesiveness with fellow junior guard Jessica Nelson allowed the trio of freshmen (Charlie Karukas, Madison Lockery, Leonora Lipson) to exhale on the court and do their part as opposed to trying to do too much.
With Landsiedel back, Stamford was able to run more of its normal offense. Even though the Black Knights had more 3-point attempt go in and out than any squad deserves.
“The key was that most of our 3-pointers were good looks,” SHS’ Burns said.
Stamford’s height advantage was important in the second half as junior center Dina Merone (nine points) made four baskets on offensive putbacks.
“Dina stepped up big time. She was a leader on the boards. And she finished strong in the paint,” Burns said. “She had a very good second half.”
TOUGH TIMES FOR NFA
The Wildcats fell to 2-5 overall with the loss.
The expected benefits to be gained from NFA’s young squad last season haven’t materialized for veteran coach Bill Scarlata.
“We had five potential returnees transfer to other schools in our area,” Scarlata said. “We practice a lot on how to attack the press. But tonight, we just panicked. We only play eight or nine games in our league so our schedule has more non-league contests than normal.”
NFA got as close as 36-28 with 4:20 left but Stamford’s depth and Landsiedel making her last four free throws kept the Wildcats at bay.
STAMFORD 44, NFA 32
NFA 4 7 10 11—32
STAMFORD 10 10 12 12—44
NORWICH FREE ACADEMY (2-5)
Jenissa Varela 2 4-4 8 Isabella Graziano 1 0-0 3 Madeline Perrino 1 0-0 2 Riley Ellington 1 0-0 2 Caitlin Dooley 1 1-2 3 Sarah Ericson 3 0-0 6 Shante Talley 2 0-3 4 Carsen Keith 0 0-0 0 Anajah Ingram 1 2-2 4. Totals: 12 7-11 32.
Jessica Nelson 2 0-3 5 Charlie Karukas 1 0-0 3 Dina Merone 4 1-5 9 Emily Graham 1 0-2 2 Megan Landsiedel 3 6-10 13 Claudia Moses 2 0-0 4 Madison Lockery 2 0-0 5 Leonora Lipson 1 0-0 3 Widline Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 7-20 44.
3-Pointers: NFA—Graziano. S—Nelson, Karukas, Landsiedel, Lockery, Lipson.