Norwich — Norwich Free Academy wanted to shake off some early lethargy in Monday evening’s CIAC Class LL ladies’ basketball match opener.
NFA wanted to play extra like Jenissa Varela.
Varela, a junior level guard, went into full pain-in-the-butt mode defensively within the second quarter to cost up her teammates. The fourth-seeded Wildcats went on to attain 22 successive factors and rolled to a 65-37 win over No. 29 Woodstock Academy within the first spherical.
“We actually wanted to choose up the power, and I believe that our protection began that for us,” Varela stated. “We obtained into our 2-2-1 press and we simply obtained plenty of steals and layups off of that.”
Varela had eight factors and 5 steals, all of which she scored within the second quarter.
“Protection, to me, and depth is all about coronary heart,” NFA head coach Courtney Gomez stated. “You don’t need to be one of the best participant on the market to be one of the best defender in case you play it with coronary heart, and also you play it with ardour, and also you play it well.
“Jenissa has the velocity, and she or he has the athleticism, so when she performs with that coronary heart together with it, she’s robust. She’s a tricky defender. She’s certainly one of our greatest defenders.”
The Wildcats (20-4) will host No. 13 Greenwich within the second spherical on Thursday. Greenwich beat No. 20 Enfield 69-55 within the first spherical.
The Cardinals are 16-7. Amongst their wins was a 54-41 victory over reigning LL champion Norwalk within the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Convention quarterfinals.
Freshman Jada Mills had a game-high 18 factors with 4 steals for NFA and reserve Caitlin Dooley added seven rebounds.
Kayla Gaudreau scored 10 for Woodstock (7-14), which the Wildcats beat 3 times this season.
NFA hadn’t performed since plundering Bacon Academy, 58-30, to win the Japanese Connecticut Convention Division I match title on Feb. 22, and it confirmed on Monday. It led 15-13 with over seven minutes left within the first half.
“I wasn’t completely stunned we got here out this manner simply coming off a giant win after which having solely a few days of observe,” Gomez stated. “I needed to inform them at halftime, ‘you may have the ability to get by on this sport not beginning off proper, however within the subsequent spherical, you are not. You could change that mentality rapidly and be able to go from the bounce.
“They are going to be (Thursday). I believe they simply wanted a style of it tonight.”
Varela responded with three straight steals, the primary two of which she was layups to push the Wildcats forward, 21-13, with 6:12 left within the quarter.
Woodstock closed to inside 21-16 with 3:54 left within the quarter.
NFA by no means let the Centaurs get any nearer. Senior Makayla Poirier-Vaughters began the Wildcats’ 22-Zero run with a layup, then adopted with an offensive rebound that Varela transformed right into a layup.
Poirier-Vaughters had 11 factors and 5 rebounds.
Ten of NFA’s subsequent 18 factors have been the results of 4 turnovers. The primary two have been free throws after a Varella a steal.
The run ended when on a steal by Poirier-Vaughters led to a Shante Talley layup because the Wildcats’ lead ballooned to 43-16 with over six minutes left within the third quarter.
“When (Varela) can set the tone like that, the remainder of us appear to comply with,” Gomez stated.