By KEN MORSE
The Plainville girls basketball team is back on track after hitting a bump in the road. They returned to the win column last week picking up a pair of victories, improving to 10-7 on the season.
The Blue Devil quest for the postseason hit a bump in the road with a four-game losing streak, but two of those losses were by fewer than four points. On Friday Feb 1, the Devils (9-7) got back on track against a very good Middletown (10-6) team that came in with three wins in its last four attempts.
The Blue Devils stepped on the gas from the opening tip and never even bothered to check the rearview mirror as they ran the Blue Dragons right out of the Ivan Wood Gymnasium by an 80-62 margin.
Head coach Jessica Neuweiler may have had a fleeting thought about looking for a bottle big enough to try and put this game into.
“Tonight was a perfect example of what this team is capable of,” said Neuweiler. “That is the Plainville that we’ve been waiting to see.”
If you ever wanted to know what an entire team victory looked like, you should have been in Plainville last Friday. Three and four players crashed the boards for 35 rebounds. The passing game looked like a pinball machine at an arcade with six players tossing the ball around leading to 21 assists.
“Caitlin, Sam and Jaida all had double figures. When we do that we are very effective,” said Neuweiler. “This was a total team win tonight. When they listen and we start to execute the way we did, we have been waiting to see that all season.”
It was a tie game at 8-8 with 4:15 to go in the opening period when the Blue Devils took off. Jaida Vasquez (14 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) found Caitlin Barker (27 points) all alone in the corner for a three.
On the next possession Plainville took it inside to Krystyna Miller (9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks) and the sophomore center kicked it back out on the perimeter and Barker rippled the net again for a three-pointer.
Barker later returned the favor and drew the defense out on the wing. The senior shooter fired a pass to Miller down on the baseline for a layup off the window to open up a 21-15 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.
After the Blue Dragons managed to close the gap, 23-19,0 Kori Jones (10 points, 7 rebounds) came on and buried a couple of knee-buckling threes to open up a double digit lead at 33-23 with 3:05 left in the half.
Senior play maker Sam Lozefski (7 assists, 4 rebounds) who scored a career high 16 points in the 45-35 win over Platt last Thursday set a new career mark dropping 18 points through the cylinder against Middletown, and her three-pointer just before the half handed the Blue Devils a 46-28 lead at the half.
The 13-5 run to close the first half gave Plainville a 25-13 edge in the second quarter and the Blue Devils were almost halfway to a 100 at the break. Middletown tried to close the gap in the third quarter playing as tough man-to-man defense but the quick passing game of Plainville was relentless.
Lozefski dished out four assists leading to an 11-3 run that opened up a 57-33 advantage with 4:16 to go in the quarter. Tessa Susco (3 rebounds, 2 assists) proved to be another factor for the Blue Devils as she tore down a rebound and threw in the put back.
Even when Plainville missed their shots the energy crashing the boards gave them numerous opportunities to convert. Three times Barker missed in the paint and three times Jones wrestled away the rebound.
Lozefski finally gained possession and when the defense reacted she slipped a perfect back door pass to Barker for one off the window to open a 65-42 lead heading into the final quarter.
Coach Neuweiler has been developing the depth on this team since day one and turned the game over to her bench. Vanessa Xiques, Olivia Wazorko and Sydney Ouellette joined Lilly Wazorko, Elena Gorneault and Kaitlyn Gagnon as the starters came out of the game one by one to thunderous applause from the Plainville fans to complete the Blue Devils highest scoring game of the season.
“We had a bad week and that’s going to happen over the course of a season,” said Neuweiler. “This could have gone one of two ways. We could have dwelled on it or we could pick ourselves back up and work harder. I’m proud of how they have reacted.”
“The last two games in particular I have to give a lot of credit to Sam (Lozefski). She had her all-time high against Platt and then came back and broke that mark tonight. We wouldn’t have won those two games without her.”
Plainville will look to move up in the CCC standings with their eye on qualifying for the league tournament for the second year in a row and hopefully draw a home game for the upcoming Class M state tournament.
The Blue Devils close out the regular season this week with a game at New Britain on Monday and then they take on Patriot Division rival Bristol Eastern on Thursday before returning home for a senior night celebration at home on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. against West Haven.