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The best of what came out of Newtown High School’s girls’ basketball team’s visit to Lauralton Hall of Milford on a snowy Saturday, December 30, was not the final score — albeit an impressive one as the Nighthawks rolled 56-20.
What the Nighthawks had to like best was the personnel on the court. The return of starting point guard Rylee Mulligan, after missing two-plus games with an injury, was a welcomed sight for Coach Jeremy O’Connell.
Not that the Hawks really needed a difference-making player in such an easy win, but Mulligan stands to be relied on in a big way soon enough as the Nighthawks begin tough South-West Conference play, beginning with perhaps one of the toughest tests of them all: the Wednesday, January 3 visit to defending conference champion Bethel, starting a 7 pm.
“No rest for the weary once we get into the SWC,” O’Connell notes.
Mulligan had four points in limited playing time. “It’s a great way to get back into it,” said O’Connell, who is hopeful Mulligan will be back up to full speed in short time. “She’s one of the best point guards around so its great to have her back.”
Playing a young Lauralton squad loaded with freshmen and sophomores not only gave Mulligan a way to ease back into game action, but allowed for O’Connell to fully tap his bench/depth. In fact, all 14 players who were healthy for the game got some playing time.
The Nighthawks led 19-1 after one quarter of play and 35-7 at the half.
Nicki DaPra and Amy Sapenter led Newtown with 11 points apiece. When all was said and done, a dozen Nighthawks registered points. Cyleigh Wilson had seven, Carlie Smith scored five, Kira Smith and Ali Kelleher joined Mulligan to each drop in four, Cailin Wilson had three, Carolina Stubbs, Shea Murphy, and Emma Magazu all added two, and Rebecca Alicea tacked on one.
Greta Staubly and Juliette Cryder also helped Newtown run the offense and defend on the other end of the court.
“Our practices are competitive. We have kids fighting for time,” said O’Connell, adding that it is beneficial for the team when bench players get a chance to see game action and show what they have. “I think it’s only going to benefit us in the future.”
Something else O’Connell liked was that his team put in four quarters of strong defense.
“Our defensive intensity did not lapse,” O’Connell said.
Sapenter had four steals, and Carlie Smith and Stubbs had two apiece.
Stubbs pulled down a team-best nine rebounds, DaPra had five, and Sapenter four. Cyleigh Wilson dished out five assists.
Newtown earned its fifth win in six games to begin the season.
“Anytime you tell me we’d be 5-1 going into the New Year I’ll take it in a heartbeat,” O’Connell said.
After facing Bethel, Newtown will visit Stratford on Thursday, January 4 at 7 pm, and return home to entertain Brookfield on Tuesday, January 9, also a 7 pm tip-off.