No. 4 Norwalk hands St. Joseph second loss
TRUMBULL — Norwalk and St. Joseph, two of the top teams in the FCIAC, met at Vito Montelli Court on Tuesday with the Bears coming away with an impressive 64-44 victory.
“We finally put a full game together,” Norwalk head coach Evan Kelley said. “Throughout our seven wins we hadn’t done that. Tonight, we shared the basketball. I threw in a 2-2-1 (zone press) and we executed it perfectly. We hustled and we took a lot of charges. We played to the buzzer. I’m happy with this win.”
Norwalk is recognized for its 7-2 start to the season by being ranked No. 4 in the GameTimeCT Top 10 Girls Basketball Poll. St. Joseph brought in a 9-1 mark.
“When we have multiple girls in double digits, we are a real hard team to beat,” Kelley said. “We like to get up and pressure people, but we are very versatile, mix it up and make it ugly. We are a very, very good defensive team. We are the hunted, so every team comes to play us.”
Norwalk led 15-9 after one period.
Junior guard JK Murray scored the Bears first nine points in the second quarter when they extended their advantage to 36-19 at the half.
Murray finished with 23 points. Senior point guard Belinda Hunte scored 19 points, 11 in the third quarter when St. Joseph’s looked to rally.
Norwalk’s defense turned St. Joseph over 15 times in the first two periods. Six steals led to 10 points and they drew a pair of offensive fouls. The Bears added 6 points off 14 offensive rebounds.
The up tempo and constant pressure kept St. Joseph off balance. Coach Chris Lindwall’s Cadets used a third quarter filled with hustle to regain their equilibrium. St. Joe’s scored 13 points in the frame.
“For us we’re in a stretch of games with Norwalk, Greenwich, Danbury, Stamford,” Lindwall said. “As a coach, you want to find a way to come out 2-2. For the past few years we haven’t been able to play with those guys over this kind of stretch. The thing of it is, everyone is beating everyone else. Kudos to Evan coming in in his first year and doing this.”
Norwalk’s Grace Potochney, Carsyn Langhorn, Rosalinda Kennerly, Anaijah Morgan and Serenity Mayhew were particularly effective for Norwalk.
St. Joe’s was led offensively by Kate Rudini (9 points), Kirsten Rodriguez (8 points), Elizabeth Adzima (7 points), Rahmia Johnston (6 points) and Erika Stephens (6 points).
Polling the top teams in a particular sport is helpful. It allows a team to know where it currently stands in the minds of devotees and provides them a course of where they want to be.
Polls also ring a bell with players, parents and students from schools. Polls provide a reason to discuss the why’s and wherefores to a team’s standing. How much stock a coach takes in a poll can be interesting.
“I think it is a reward for the kids,” Lindwall said. “It gives them a confidence boost for the hard work that they put in to get to this point. It’s respect, that’s how I look at it. Between social media, kids, parents they get more about that than we do as coaches. That’s fine.
“For us, the young kids have blended with the old kids. There is a sense of positivity. When the poll comes out, the girls take a look and get excited. It doesn’t faze us as coaches because of the competition you play night in and night out. You don’t have a chance to think of anything else.”
Stamford (8-1) was 7th and Staples (8-2) was 8th in the latest GameTimeCT Top 10 Girls Basketball Poll.
St. Joseph, 9-1 at the time, was listed in the poll’s others receiving votes category, behind league members Trumbull (8-2) and Greenwich (7-3). The Cadets had lost its only game to Darien, 38-33, in game two.
Kelley’s Bears lost to No. 2 Newtown (8-1) in its opener 45-20. Its other loss came to Staples 43-35.
The schedule doesn’t get easier.
Norwalk still has games against FCIAC heavyweight’s Trumbull and Stamford.
St. Joe’s will meet Stamford, Trumbull and Staples.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Norwalk’s JK Murray and Belinda Hunte were doubly dangerous. Murray hit every gap she could find in the Cadet defense and took the ball to the rim. Hunte showed the ability to run the transition attack, or smartly pull the ball out and start it over. Both girls showed an ability to take the game over.
“Early this season that No. 1 ranking messed with their heads a little bit. Now that we’ve dropped down a bit, we’re getting our swag back.” — Norwalk coach Evan Kelley
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NORWALK 63, ST. JOSEPH 44
Norwalk (8-2, 6-1 FCIAC)
Camila Martinez 1 1-1 3, Carsyn Langhorn 1 0-0 2, Anaijah Morgan 3 3-6 9, Georgia Viouhos 0 0-2 0 Grace Potochney 1 0-0 2, JK Murray 9 5-6 23, Belinda Hunte 8 1-2 19, Lamia Ashley 0 1-2 1, Rosalinda Kennerly 1 2-5 4, Serenity Mayhew 0 0-0 0
Totals 24 13-24 63
St. Joseph (9-2, 6-2 FCIAC)
Veronica Lubas 1 2-2 4, Elizabeth Adzima 0 7-8 7, Cate DeProfio 0 0-0 0, Kate Rudini 3 2-2 9, Kayleigh Carson 0 0-0 0, Erika Stephens 2 2-3 6, McKenna Hedman 0 0-0 0, Isabella Casucci 0 0-1 0, Rahmia Johnston 2 2-6 6, Kirsten Rodriguez 3 2-5 8, Becca Kery 0 2-2 2, Emily Haverl 1 0-0 2
Totals 12 19-29 44
Norwalk 15 21 18 9 - 63
St. Joseph 9 10 13 12 - 44
3 Pt Field Goals
Norwalk - Belinda Hunte - 2
St. Joseph - Kate Rudini - 1