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Girls’ Basketball Team Cruises To Victories, Seeks Quick Improvement



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Newtown High School’s girls’ basketball team is off to a winning start, victorious in four games out of the gate, to be exact.

After limiting Bethel and Immaculate of Danbury each to a low-20s point total with a 41-21 triumph over Bethel on February 8 and a 38-22 victory over Immaculate on February 11, Coach Jeremy O’Connell could not have been more pleased with the defensive effort.

“I’ll take that every single night,” O’Connell said.

So far, so good. The Nighthawks kept each of their next two foes in the 20s, too, beating host Weston 51-29 on February 13, then besting Brookfield 56-27 in another road tilt two days later.

The increase in Newtown’s point total over the last two games also has to be a welcome sign for O’Connell who, after the Immaculate game, said his team showed “tons of room for improvement, especially on the offensive end.”

The Nighthawks led Immaculate 6-1 after one quarter of play and fell behind 9-7 early in the second quarter before closing out the half on a 6-0 run for a 13-9 lead at the intermission.

Maddie Patrick led Newtown with 13 points, Emma Magazu scored nine, Julia Gerace had seven, Chloe O’Connell had six, and Bella Gerace added three.

Immaculate had strong contributions from Newtown residents Grace Soltis and Mia Arcario.

The defense led the way and sparked Newtown’s second-half pull-away. Steals, some of which came via the full-court press and five-second inbound violations against the Mustangs, thwarted the visitors and gave the Hawks extra possessions to build on the lead.

Magazu’s steal and layup gave Newtown a 21-14 lead in the third quarter. Bella Gerace’s steal and subsequent 3-point play the old fashioned way pushed Newtown’s lead to double digits at 26-16 with 33 seconds to go in the quarter. NHS carried that advantage to the fourth.

Early in the fourth, the Mustangs got the deficit back down to eight only to see the Nighthawks respond seconds later when Patrick hit a turnaround shot in the paint. Julia Gerace found Patrick down low with a pass that led to another Patrick basket less than 2:30 into the final stanza, and the lead continued to swell.

Patrick and Magazu each had four of Newtown’s 12 steals in the game. Patrick also had five blocks and seven rebounds. Allie McCarthy had five rebounds. Julia Gerace had six rebounds and a pair of steals.

Coach O’Connell said following the Immaculate game that the good news is his team’s early season mistakes are fixable and the Nighthawks are winning. The one thing the Hawks have going against them is time: Four games into the season is already one third of the season gone in this coronavirus-shortened campaign.

Newtown honored its final-year players on Senior Night when Immaculate visited. Shea Murphy, Magazu, Julia Gerace, and Patrick were all recognized.

Against Weston, the Hawks totaled 14 points in each of the first two quarters to seize control. Julia Gerace poured in 18 total points, O’Connell had nine, Patrick and Bradley each scored six, and Magazu added five.

In the win over Brookfield, NHS put 32 on the first half scoreboard. Bella Gerace logged 14 points, Bradley and Julia Gerace both had ten, Patrick scored nine, and Magazu had seven.

Newtown’s coach is pleased with the effort each game.

“Love it, never question the heart, hustle, and intensity of these girls — ever. They always bring it,” he said.

Newtown visits Kolbe Cathedral of Bridgeport on Friday, February 19, starting at 7 pm, and goes to Masuk of Monroe on Tuesday, February 23, starting at 7:15 pm. The next home tilt is Friday, February 26, when Stratford comes to town for 6 pm tip-off.

Newtown High’s Bella Gerace, left, drives to the hoop for a 3-point play in a win over Immaculate as Mustang player and Newtown resident Mia Arcario defends. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Allie Bradely (No. 24) defends Immaculate’s Grace Soltis of Newtown.
Emma Magazu makes a move with the ball.
Julia Gerace (No. 34) competes during Newtown’s win.
Kristen Reisert battles under the rim.
Maddie Patrick goes up for two points as Grace Soltis defends.
Chloe O’Connell goes for a basket despite pressure from the defense.
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