Monday, March 08, 2021

Sports

LeMere Still Believes in the T-Birds After Two Recent Defeats

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Junior Braeden LeBeau posted a double-double for the North Branford girls’ basketball squad when the team lost to Morgan on Feb. 16. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Junior Braeden LeBeau posted a double-double for the North Branford girls’ basketball squad when the team lost to Morgan on Feb. 16. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

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Junior Marissa Ricardo and the T-Birds took two defeats in last week’s action, but Head Coach Sabrina LeMere believes that better things are in store for her team as the campaign unfolds. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Junior Marissa Ricardo and the T-Birds took two defeats in last week’s action, but Head Coach Sabrina LeMere believes that better things are in store for her team as the campaign unfolds. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

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Junior Hanna Senerchia and the North Branford girls’ hoops squad will look to get back on track this week after taking two recent losses. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

Junior Hanna Senerchia and the North Branford girls’ hoops squad will look to get back on track this week after taking two recent losses. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

After earning a win in the first week of its season, the North Branford girls’ basketball team faced Morgan and Cromwell during the second week of the winter campaign. The Thunderbirds took a 47-32 loss at Morgan and then dropped a 52-32 home contest against Cromwell to move to 1-3 on the year.

On Feb. 16, North Branford squared off with Morgan for a road game. The T-Birds jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter and were up 17-14 after one. However, Morgan held North Branford scoreless in the third quarter and then outscored the T-Birds 22-10 in the fourth to come away with the win.

Although North Branford started the game strong, Head Coach Sabrina LeMere said that the T-Birds weren’t able to hit their shots down the stretch.

“I thought we came out strong. We were up by 10 in the first quarter. We kind of just hit a flat point,” said LeMere. “It was a very still game on both sides. Our shots weren’t there. The girls were working hard. We just weren’t able to hit those key shots when we needed them. Morgan hit those shots, and the game just kind of got away from us a little bit.”

Junior guard Marissa Ricardo scored six points and grabbed five rebounds, while junior guards Hanna Senerchia and Delaney Norman scored three points apiece for North Branford. Junior forward Braeden LeBeau recorded a double-double by scoring 18 points and collecting 18 rebounds in the game.

Coach LeMere said that LeBeau continues to be a pivotal player for the T-Birds and is willing to do whatever is needed to help the team succeed.

“Braeden has been doing a great job. She is such a key player to our program. Whenever we ask her to do something, she does it. She’s very coachable. She’s very dedicated to improving, which is great,” Coach LeMere said. “She hustles, she works hard. She’s very positive and uplifting. Her free throws have improved tremendously. She’s a great kid to work with.”

On Feb. 20, North Branford hosted Cromwell and took a 52-32 defeat to the Panthers. LeBeau scored 12 points, and Ricardo had seven points on the night. Senior captain guard Erica Piercey had four points, while Norman scored three for the T-Birds.

Coach LeMere felt that her team played some solid defense against Cromwell. Despite the defeat, LeMere still believes that North Branford can be a quality basketball squad in 2021.

“Once again, we came out strong. We came out looking like we were ready to go. We hit a point and plateaued from there,” said LeMere. “The girls have a lot more talent and potential than what they’re showing thus far. I have all the faith in the world in them. I believe they’re a good team. This score does not reflect what this team could bring to the table.”

As the T-Birds look to bounce back, LeMere said that her club is going to continue focusing on the mental aspect of the sport. The coach is looking for North Branford to perform in pressure situations and close out games with authority. Going forward, LeMere plans on having the T-Birds work on their offense in practice in order to hit the court with more confidence.

“A part of it is definitely our mental game. I’m going to continue trying to lift my girls’ spirits. That’s going to be a key focus for us no matter what,” LeMere said. “In practice, we’re going to do a bunch of shooting drills. We’re going to do drills where we’re pressuring the ball, so in those pressure situations, they don’t panic. We’re going to continuously keep drilling those one-on-one drills and give them the confidence they need to finish games.”

A program alum, LeMere is in her first season as North Branford’s head coach. When she took the job, LeMere wanted to implement a hard-nosed style of basketball in which hustle is a major theme. Through the team’s first four contests, LeMere feels that the T-Birds are starting to buy into this style of play and are working toward implementing it more during games.

“I think they’re slowly buying into it. I think they know that that’s what I’m looking for from them,” said LeMere. “There are definitely some games when you look back that we could have gone for an extra ball or boxed out a little harder. But they know that that’s what I’m looking for.”

As the T-Birds continue their season, Coach LeMere wants to see the confidence grow in her players. LeMere knows that North Branford’s 1-3 record isn’t indicative of how good the team can be. LeMere is hoping that a boost in confidence will result in better play and more wins for the Thunderbirds.

“Looking at the last two losses, I just want them to know that I believe they’re better than what they’ve shown. They need to gain that confidence,” LeMere said. “We just need to keep looking forward. Every game is a new game. It’s a new group of players you’re playing against. We need to know that we can put the ball in the basket, we can play strong defense. If we beat those teams in the hustle points, we’re more likely to beat them on the scoreboard.”



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