Regular Season Curtailed For Girls' Cagers
Note: This article was updated with Newtown's rescheduled game information after the print edition article went to press on March 3.
FAIRFIELD — The remaining four regular season games for Newtown High School’s girls’ basketball were initially canceled due to coronavirus protocol but Newtown's last game, against visiting Bunnell of Stratford, has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 13, at 3 pm.
When individuals on a team have possible exposure to somebody who has tested positive for the virus, they must quarantine while the team plays on. When a member of the team tests positive, the entire team must sit out for 14 days. Unfortunately, the Nighthawks find themselves in the latter circumstance.
On February 26, Newtown hosted Stratford, fresh off its own 14-day quarantine. Despite returning to the court, Stratford’s next few games, through the middle of March, have also since been canceled, including one against Bunnell.
It seems unrealistic that all of the Nighthawks’ games can be rescheduled before the anticipated start of the South-West Conference tournament later in March, but it remains conceivable that Newtown can return in time to compete in the postseason.
Just hours before the official cancelation of their games, the Nighthawks were excited about what was shaping up to be a challenging playoff-tuneup of a week.
As pleased as Coach Jeremy O’Connell was with team’s 52-24 triumph over Stratford, he was more impressed with the showing in a 48-39 setback at Notre Dame-Fairfield on March 1.
After all, Stratford had only played in — and lost — two games before their quarantine, and defending conference champion Notre Dame is traditionally a top team in the state.
The Nighthawks trailed just 28-21 at the half, but the Lancers increased their lead to 15 points in the third quarter and led 41-28 heading to the fourth. Newtown twice pulled to within eight points early in the final period but could not overcome Notre Dame’s athleticism and turnover-causing quick hands-on defense.
“It goes to show that if you compete and play hard, we have the ability to beat anyone,” O’Connell said. “Notre Dame is fantastic and we went toe to toe with them.”
Against the Lancers, Allie Bradley led Newtown with 15 points. Emma Magazu, Chloe O’Connell, and Maddie Patrick had nine, eight, and seven, respectively. O’Connell grabbed eight rebounds, Julia Gerace had six rebounds, and Bradley had five rebounds. Magazu came away with a trio of steals.
In the Stratford game, 11 Nighthawks got on the scoresheet, with Gerace leading the way with 10 points, Bradley and O’Connell both dropping in seven, and Macey Cuomo adding six.
O’Connell had been looking forward to facing always-tough Pomperaug of Southbury and Joel Barlow of Redding this week before those games were canceled.
“You get to show what you’re made of. I hope tonight’s going to be a stepping stone for us moving forward,” O’Connell said after the Notre Dame game.
Now, the hope for the Nighthawks is that there will be a postseason opportunity.
Gerace, a senior captain, was part of the team last March when the Nighthawks were on the verge of the state semifinals, only to have the season end abruptly due to the coronavirus.
“Obviously, we’re all devastated. We were excited for the upcoming week. It’s heartbreaking that it’s happening again,” said Gerace, adding that she is optimistic about the team’s chances of getting to play, and coming back strong.
“We are hoping to be back for playoff time. We will just need to grind it out. I feel like we were hitting our stride at the right time. We just need to readjust and persevere,” O’Connell said.