By KEN MORSE
The Plainville girls basketball team is on a mission to finish what they started last season. The Lady Blue Devils are attempting to become the first team since 2007-2008 to put together back-to-back winning seasons.
Plainville finished 2007 with a 19-1 mark and 2008 with an 18-2 ledger, making it to the Class M quarterfinals both years. Last season under second year head coach Jess Neuweiler the Blue Devils 11-9 posted its first winning season in four years.
The Lady Blue Devils at 3-2 and are taking on the early challenge, taking a step forward last week winning two games on the road as they get set to enter the 20th annual Rybczyk Holiday tournament.
“We had three very different games,” said Neuweiler. “We played really well in our two road wins and had a very tough matchup at home with Berlin. We ended the week with the best game we’ve had all year.”
On Monday, Dec. 17, Plainville hit the road facing Maloney and got right after it building a 14-4 first quarter advantage. A 25-0 second quarter steered this game into the win column with the Blue and White emerging with a 57-22 victory.
Teams are not having a lot of success trying to shut down the Blue Devils leading scorer senior co-captain Caitlin Barker who has 100 points in five games at a 20 point per game clip because Plainville is in the process of developing other scoring threats becoming a more diverse unit.
In the win over Maloney, eight players found their way into the scoring column led by Barker with 14 points. Sophomores Jaida Vasquez and Sydney Ouellette knocked down 11 points each.
Vasquez has dropped 65 points through the cylinder at a 13 point per game average and senior co-captain Sam Lozefski has 40 points for an 8 point per game clip.
The Blue Devils are putting together a solid rotation with sophomores Tessa Susco (six points per game) and Kori Jones (four points per game) adding to the offensive output. Junior Olivia Wazorko has provided strong defensive minutes with sophomore Krystyna Miller developing her inside game contributing three points per game.
Junior Vanessa Xiques, sophomore Elena Gorneault (scoring in 3 of 5 games), and freshman Lillian Wazorko complete the deep rotation for the Blue Devils.
Plainville was challenged last week having to play three games in six days. On Thursday, they faced off against undefeated 5-0 Berlin. A slow start hampered the Blue Devils as the Red Coats broke out to a 15-4 first quarter lead.
“It all came down to the first quarter,” said Neuweiler. “I loved the way we responded and fought back to win the last three quarters. But the little things we need to do to be successful, we didn’t do early on and it hurt us in the long run.”
Plainville did manage to outscore Berlin in each of the next three quarters, but it wasn’t enough in the end as they fell by a slim 51-49 margin. Barker was her consistent self, putting down 20 points to lead the way.
Playing their second game of the week on the road, Plainville went to West Haven last Saturday, Dec. 22 and brought back a victory putting up their highest scoring effort of the season in a 67-40 win.
“I was really happy to see us bounce back the way we did against West Haven,” said Neuweiler. “We have to figure out how to put a full 32 minutes together like we did and not give away a quarter like the game against Berlin.”
Barker knocked in 20 points to lead the way; Vasquez threw in 15 points; and Lozefski contributed 14 points. In each of the Blue Devils three wins on the season the offense has put together three double figure scorers.
It certainly helps to develop a few more options as Susco knocked down eight points for the second time this season and Miller made her presence felt under the basket putting four points through the net. Gorneault, Jones, and Lillian Wazorko added baskets to complete the scoring.
Plainville will take on Amistad on Thursday, Dec 27 and will face the winner of the SMSA-Greenwich game on Friday in the 20th annual Rybczyk Holiday tournament. Look for full coverage of the Rybczyk tournament in next week’s edition.