The absence of one key starter was enough to derail the Joel Barlow High girls varsity basketball team when it visited New Milford.
The Falcons were without senior captain Victoria Shea, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle last Thursday, Jan. 24. As a result, they had a bit of trouble with the Green Wave’s defense, losing 38-32.
The loss ended a nine-game winning streak for Barlow and was its lowest scoring game since a 44-29 loss to Brookfield in December.
Without Shea’s ball-handling skills, the Falcons were susceptible to New Milford’s man-to-man defense, which often caused turnovers that were converted into transition points. Such hurt the Falcons early in the night in particular as the Green Wave went ahead to stay. A field goal by Sarah McAniff accounted for Barlow’s only points in the first quarter as it trailed 9-2.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Julianna Fusco and Alex Kersten put the hosts up 15-2 early in the next frame. The Falcon defense allowed only four more points for the rest of the quarter and cut the gap to seven (19-12) on McAniff’s lay-up in the last minute of the half.
When play resumed, the visitors drew a little closer in the third frame while holding the Green Wave to five points in that stretch, including a lone field goal by Lauren McDonald. Drew Bartro’s three-pointer made it a four-point game as the Falcons trailed 24-19 going into the last quarter.
Emma Gallagher’s basket early in the fourth frame made it a three-point game, which was the closest Barlow got in the time remaining. As time wound down the Falcons were forced to foul to stop the clock and the Green Wave responded by sinking nine of 12 free throws to keep the lead safe.
McAniff led Barlow with 10 points and had a good defensive game with nine steals. Barlow scored nine, including a three-pointer, and had four assists with seven rebounds and two blocks.
Gallagher and Kelly Gilbert scored four each while Kelly Mahoney had three. Katie Williges had two.
Barlow was also without Shea when it hosted Bunnell two days earlier. It was still able to handle the Bulldog’s zone defense to win 55-45.
Wasting no time, Barlow went up early with the help of a seven-point effort by Bartro in the first quarter. Gallagher hit two three-pointers during the time as the Falcons led 17-10.
Throughout the night the Falcons’ main concern was Bunnell’s Jess Bogdowicz. The junior guard was her team’s lone offensive spark, scoring 29 points, including three three-pointers, and went 10 for 10 from the foul line.
Barlow was led by Bartro with 22 points but Gallagher also stepped up with a career-high 19, including three three-pointers. Between the two of them they led Barlow to a 32-23 advantage at halftime.
They combined to score all of Barlow’s nine points in the third quarter, which ended with the hosts up 41-36.
Although Bogdowicz netted nine points in the last frame she was the only Bunnell player to score. The Falcons used a more balanced approach with Gallagher, Bartro, Williges, McAniff and Gilbert all netting points.
Williges finished with six points and Gilbert had four. McAniff and Mahoney had two apiece.
Now 11-3, Barlow is at Newtown on Friday, hosts Kolbe-Cathedral on Monday and is home to Weston on Tuesday. All games start at 7 p.m.