BRISTOL - After the St. Paul girls basketball team got four 3-pointers in the first quarter from sophomore guard Janessa Gonzalez, Naugatuck made a change defensively.
The Greyhounds focused on shutting down Gonzalez.
“They played a box-and-one on me,” Gonzalez said. “It was kind of hard to get open, but I did my best to.”
It was the first time Gonzalez saw that defensive look this year and with it Naugatuck got back in the game.
The Falcons still were able to pull out a 43-34 victory, but the Greyhounds figured out a defensive game plan that worked.
“She’s a great player,” St. Paul assistant coach Chelsea Mone said. “I think she handled it well. When you’re taking that many shots and she couldn’t miss in the first half. So going into box one I think she handled it well. I think that’s something she’ll see more going forward. So seeing it for the first time, I think she handled well.”
Gonzalez was shut down in the third quarter scoring and had just four points in the second quarter as she wasn’t able to get a good look.
“When they played box and one they really played me tight and didn’t let me touch the ball,” Gonzalez said.
“They played me really close up and it was really hard to find a way to score.”
As the game got closer, Gonzalez switched up her style of play, attacking the basket more, and the Greyhounds also altered their defense.
“They started playing man to man on everyone, so it was easier to get to the basket since there were more openings, rather than playing the box and one and having the middle clogged up.”
For St. Paul and Gonzalez, the success the Greyhounds had while in that defensive alignment is an indication that other teams are going to take notice and implement a similar strategy to shut down Gonzalez.
While the second and third quarters weren’t impressive, Gonzalez still finished the game and showed that she’s got more than just the deep-range game.
In the fourth she drove to the hoop and won the game at the free throw line as she hit seven of nine foul shots and put the game out of reach.
It was a scare for St. Paul, but with it the Falcons know that coaching adjustments and Gonzalez’s ability to counter a defensive strategy can be beneficial moving forward in the season.
Production from other players is essential as well for St. Paul. In the third and fourth quarters, Gonzalez and Taylor Crawford were the only players to score.
Crawford kept it close with all four third quarter points and had two points in the fourth as well.
The Falcons moved to 6-1 on the season with the win.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org