Hand Girls’ Hoops Wins Big Versus Guilford in Season Opener
Junior Sophia Coppola scored 17 points to help the Hand girls’ basketball team earn a 69-33 victory versus Guilford in its season opener on Feb. 12. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
The defensive efforts of Brooke Salutari and senior captain Hadley Houghton played a key role in the Tigers’ convincing win at Guilford in their first game of the year. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Maddie Thomas and the Hand girls’ basketball squad came out strong against Guilford and never looked back on their way to a 69-33 triumph. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Moira Kellaher scored 11 points for the Grizzlies when they took a home loss to Hand on Feb. 12. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior captain Miabella Diaz and the Guilford girls’ basketball team lost their first two games of the season last week and will look to notch their first victory during this week’s action. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
ollowing a great deal of uncertainty that the 2021 winter season would even take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daniel Hand and Guilford girls' basketball teams finally had a chance to renew their rivalry when the two sides squared off last week. Hand demonstrated that it was ready to play and won its season opener by the final score of 69-33 at Guilford High School on Feb. 12.
The Tigers started the game on a 14-0 run and took a 36-12 lead into halftime versus Guilford. Hand then outscored the Grizzlies in both the third (22-13) and fourth (11-8) periods on its way to the victory.
"We shared the ball really, really well, and we hit shots. We had four kids in double-figures tonight, and all of these kids worked really hard leading up to this moment," Hand Head Coach Tim Tredwell said. "I studied a bunch of teams over the offseason and I wanted to figure out, with the kids that we have, what would be most effective from a defensive standpoint. We came out in a zone, and it really paid off tonight."
Junior guard Sophia Coppola scored eight of the Tigers' first 14 points of the night on her way to netting 17 points for the game. Coppola also had seven rebounds to go with two assists and two steals to help Hand prevail.
"It was a great way to start the season. I felt very happy with how we played," said Coppola. "We worked well as a team, and it paid off. I think we have a lot of potential, and I am very excited."
On top of Coppola's 17 points, senior captain guard Hadley Houghton scored 16 points for the Tigers in the win. Junior forward Brooke Salutari scored 11 points, and senior captain center Maddie Thomas had 10 points for Coach Tredwell's squad.
"We came out flying," said Tredwell. "To Sophia's credit, when the ball came to her, she hit her shots. Having a team with multiple threats is really fun. It gives you a little bit of leeway in the sense that if someone is having an off night, you can lean on another girl to give you production when you need it."
Guilford Head Coach Bernie Brennan felt that his team lacked energy in the Hand game after having played Sheehan in its season opener the previous evening. The Grizzlies lost to Sheehan by a 36-21 final after the Titans broke open a close game by outscoring Guilford 21-10 during the second half.
"Yesterday, we had a hard-fought game against No. 10-ranked Sheehan, so I felt like the girls were tired and did not have the energy they needed to compete with No. 13-ranked Daniel Hand. It is hard to play two games against good teams on back-to-back days with a thin team," Coach Brennan said. "I really felt after last season that we had 10 solid players returning that would give us a deep team where I could play 10 girls and really get after it defensively. One week prior to the season, nine girls decided not to play this season because they felt it was not safe, which really depleted our depth."
Guilford's roster predominantly consists of underclass athletes. The Grizzlies are being led by senior captain guard Moira Kellaher and junior captain guards Miabella Diaz and Faith O'Donnell.
Coach Brennan felt that his team's lack of experience, coupled with Hand's stingy zone defense, resulted in a tough game for the Grizzlies.
"They played an aggressive zone, and we had problems playing against it," said Brennan. "It has been hard in practice to replicate these situations since we are young and have some key players missing. Hand also made a high percentage of their shots today."
Kellaher scored 11 points, while O'Donnell had nine points for Guilford in the loss. Previously, when Guilford played Sheehan, Kellaher had eight points, and Diaz scored seven for the Grizzlies.
After defeating Guilford, Hand got ready to host East Haven on Feb. 16 (after press time). The Tigers have a home game against Hillhouse and road games versus Hamden and Mercy on this week's schedule.
Coach Tredwell was pleased to see the Tigers start their season with a win, but he knows that there are things for them to improve upon as the campaign unfolds.
"I think we need to not relax as much when we get out to a big lead. Maintaining our intensity on every possession is a tough thing to do, but to be great, you can't take a play off," Tredwell said. "That's the challenge. If we want to live up to our potential, we need to work hard every practice and every game. We can't think that this is how it's going to go every night."
With the first week of the season complete, Coach Brennan and the Grizzlies were scheduled to face Cheshire in their next contest on Feb. 17 (after press time). Guilford is hosting Wilbur Cross and will then be on the road to play Branford and Lyman Hall.
Coach Brennan's hope is for his athletes to keep an upbeat frame of mind and continue battling throughout the season.
"We just have to stay positive and keep getting better in practice," Brennan said. "It is all about effort and attitude, which we control, and we have to control what we can control and let go of what we cannot control. We've had a difficult schedule opening up with two ranked teams with a young, thin team, but there are some winnable games coming up that are better matchups for us."