While it did not get much of a challenge from its opponent the Joel Barlow High girls varsity basketball team still put its game at Stratford to good use.
The Falcons, who took control early, used the opportunity to work on their half-court defense in preparation for the remainder of the season. They also converted their opponent’s turnovers into transition points in a 39-18 win last Tuesday, Jan. 15.
“We did what we had to do,” said Barlow head coach Joe Carollo, who also used the game to give every player some time on the court. “We made sure we stayed sharp.”
Barlow, which went up 17-5 after the first quarter, then eased up on its offense. Yet the Red Devils fell farther behind, getting shut out in the next frame as the score read 22-5 at halftime.
The Falcons kept their scoring to single digits for the third period but still increased their lead by a point (27-4). Both sides bumped up their offenses a bit for the last frame as the visitors closed out the win.
Drew Bartro led Barlow with 11 points and Sarah McAniff also scored in double figures with 10. Victoria Shea netted four, as did Katie Williges.
Emma Gallagher hit a three-point shot and Ally Stillman and Kelly Mahony scored two points apiece. Gillian Blackwell, Kelly Gilbert and Maddie Cammarota each sank a free throw.
Hosting New Fairfield three days later, the Falcons were in desperate need of a spark, something to get them to wake up from their sleep walking through the first three quarters. A spark they got and then some as McAniff exploded for 10 of her game-high 16 points in the decisive fourth quarter to lead the a hard fought 44-39 victory.
“We were working hard earlier in the game, but for some reason things were not working as we had hoped,” said McAniff. “But give New Fairfield credit, they came in here and did not play like a 3-7 team.”
That they did not. Trailing 20-16 at the half, the Rebels out-scored the Falcons in the third quarter to take a 31-29 lead.
In fact, when New Fairfield’s Katherine Broderick (25 points) hit a huge three-pointer at the 5;30, it extended the lead to 38-31.
The Falcons, led by McAniff and some gutty defense and rebounding by Blackwell, went on a 10-0 run. When McAniff hit her second three-pointer of the quarter, Barlow’s lead and the victory were safe.
“This was a great team win,” said McAniff. “All my teammates just gave it all they had in the last five minutes of this game.”
Shea scored 11 points and Bartro netted 14 respectively. Each Barlow played contributed either key defensive stops or a key rebound or assist in the final quarter.
“New Fairfield played us tough,” said McAniff. “The Broderick girl was so tough, but we have to come out with better energy when we face the top SWC teams down the road. But I am confident we will, we learned a good lesson tonight.”.
Barlow, now 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the South-West Conference, is at New Milford today (Thursday) and hosts Pomperaug on Tuesday. Both games start at 7 p.m.