Girls hoops: Derby/Ansonia marches forward

The Ansonia/Derby girls basketball program has reached the halfway point of its second season. Although not every team has a winning record, the weekly improvement of each player and team is better than any single victory.

“We are competing against programs that have been run for 30 or 40 years, this is our second year,” said Patrick Lynch, co-director of the program and the eighth-grade coach. “So to measure each team on wins and losses wouldn’t be fair to the kids.

“What I see is group of 50 girls (five teams, one for each grade 4-8) practicing and playing their hardest every week and that’s why Dave and I started this program.”

The girls that make up the program are from Ansonia and Derby and a lot of them are new to the sport. The program is teaching the basis fundamentals of the game to the girls at a younger age, as well as having them compete against other town teams throughout the state.

Between the five teams, they have played towns like North Haven, Durham, New Haven, Clinton and Seymour to name a few and still have games scheduled with Prospect, West Haven, Cheshire and Wallingford.

“They are learning the basics during the week practicing and competing against some good teams on the weekend,” Dave Chevarella, co-director of the program, said. “If they weren’t learning it now, we would be teaching it in high school, so this kind of gives the girls a head start. It also shows them, with some hard work and practice, how good they can be, because some of these other towns are really good.”

The fourth-grade team has the most wins of any of the five teams and has continued to improve while learning how to play the game. Josephine (Jo-Jo) Sanchez is the team’s leading scorer averaging close to 10 points a game and Courtney Musante is just behind her scoring about seven points a game. Laney O’Hara has done a great job rebounding on both ends of the court as the team’s center. They play at Darien this upcoming Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

The hard-luck team of the program has been the fifth-grade team. The fifth-graders have been in every single game, but have yet to secure their first victory. They have lost three games by one point and their most recent game this past Sunday in Durham, they lost on a putback with less than 10 seconds left.

Morgan Teodosio has been filling the stat sheet each week, averaging 10 points, five rebounds and four steals a game. Lucy Lane has been averaging close to five points a game and Kiara Swilling is probably the most improved player in the program. Kylie Drezek is averaging six rebounds a game for the fifth-graders. They will play at Prospect this Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

A few of the fifth graders also play with the sixth-grade team at home games to allow the team to play. Chardenay Rowson has been a force inside, averaging six points, nine rebounds and four blocks a game. Teodosio is also the leading scorer for this team. Natasha Rivera and Gabby Gavin have been helping in scoring department, as they both average about four points a game. They will host Old Saybrook in two weeks on Dec. 22 at 11:15 a.m.

The leading scorer in the program plays for the seventh-grade team. Sydney Drezek is averaging just over 13 points per game for her team.

Gillian Nemec has shown nice outside touch, averaging close to five points per game and Larissa Rodriguez has shown great instincts for the ball, averaging 10 rebounds a game. They will play in Clinton, at Morgan High, at 12:45 p.m. on Sunday.

The oldest team in the program, the eighth-graders, have run into some stiff competition lately but have continued to compete and have secured a few wins on the season.

Destiny Blackwood has continued to show flashes of being a quality guard, as she is averaging 11 points, three assists and five steals a game.

Judi Palmeri and Shamyra Rivers have been working hard in the paint, both averaging four points and six rebounds a game. Ashja Jones has really picked up her defensive intensity, averaging four steals a game.

They play at Prospect at 12 p.m. this Sunday.

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