REDDING, Conn. – With four seniors returning from last year’s team and a combined 31 wins over the last two seasons, Joel Barlow High School’s girls basketball team has high expectations.
But as the Falcons showed in last week’s 54-36 loss to Notre Dame Catholic High School of Fairfield, they also have some flaws that need to be fixed as they head into the teeth of the South-West Conference schedule.
“I still think we’re a top eight team in the league, which would get us into the league playoffs for the third straight year,’’ coach Joe Carollo said. “I like our team. But everybody has to keep improving, me included.”
The Falcons (2-2) are led by senior co-captains Drew Bartro, Sarah McAniff, Victoria Shea and Kelly Gilbert. Bartro and McAniff scored nine points each in the loss to Notre Dame.
Bartro gives the Falcons a strong scorer and rebounder in the post. McAniff, Shea and Gilbert are good outside shooters and can penetrate to the basket.
Barlow’s problem against Notre Dame was turnovers. The Falcons turned the ball over 25 times against the Lancers. Notre Dame turned the game around with a 22-0 run in the second quarter that was fueled by Barlow turnovers. The Falcons turned it over 10 times in the second quarter alone.
“I think the pace was faster than we wanted,’’ Carollo said. “I don’t think we were nervous. We had a good second half and we did a lot of things right. I loved that we didn’t quit and kept playing hard to the end.”
Barlow has non-league games at North Haven High School on Friday and at home Saturday against Platt Technical High School. The Falcons then play 10 games against conference opponents in January, which will go a long way to determining how they measure up in the league. Good news for Barlow is that it won’t meet Notre Dame again during the regular season.
“Notre Dame is loaded,’’ Carollo said. “They’re definitely a team to be watched out for.”
Barlow’s a good team, too, and will be a factor in the league playoff race. Carollo’s team always play terrific defense, which keeps them in every game. If they can find enough offense, the Falcons might make an extended playoff run in February.
“We do have some high expectations this year,’’ Carollo said. “We just have to keep playing hard.”