NFA Girls Basketball: a New Coach and a New Mentality

Christopher Green, Staff Writer

The NFA girls basketball team has gone a quiet 16-4 in the regular season finishing 4th in the state of Connecticut’s Class LL. With first-year head coach, a Norwich Free Academy Alumna, Courtney Gomez, the wildcats have had a tremendous season creating a great basketball atmosphere at NFA.

Often first-year coaches are not greeted with a great winning tradition that was left behind by legendary girls basketball coach, Bill Scarlata. Coach “Scar” had an all-time record of 576-112 over his 27 seasons for NFA, never leading the team to a losing season. 

However, with a new coach, comes a new mentality. This year’s Wildcats have proven to be hungry, with a goal of playing at the Mohegan Sun for an Eastern Connecticut Conference (ECC) championship, as well as a state championship. A new team-first style has pushed the Wildcats to a great season this year. Coach Gomez has brought her energy to this year’s team, creating relationships between her and her players that have matured over the year. 

“I think at the beginning of the season we were trying to find an identity and get used to playing with one another. Now that we are farther into it we have found who we are defensively and offensively, and we’ve done a great job at practicing hard every day,” said Gomez.

This year’s motivation has been seen especially during practices. 

“Our practices are a lot more upbeat and fast. Coach Gomez really works with us well. The relationships that we have with one another are so much better because of her,” commented senior guard, Bella Graziano.  

Among many great wins this season was the victory over Newtown High School. Newtown is ranked second in Class LL in the state of Connecticut. NFA dominated Newtown in this game. Taking the lead in the first quarter, the Wildcats never looked back, winning the game 43-29. This rose NFA’s confidence level to round out the season. 

“The win over Newtown really boosted our confidence because they were a good team, so beating them showed us that we can beat anybody in the state if we work hard,” added senior guard, Riley Ellington. 

This victory over Newtown was one of 12 in a row for the wildcats. The winning streak brought the team closer and really showed who were the leaders on the team. 

“I think it really showed the girls that when we settle down and play our game, we can definitely compete with anybody in the state,” stated Gomez.

Senior Riley Ellington added, “The seniors are the biggest leaders on the team this year, and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to really bring the energy every day.”

The team has demonstrated great chemistry from the start. With the off-season weight training and conditioning proving to show on the court late in the game, the upperclassmen are grateful that they put in the effort during the off-season. 

After coming off an exciting 28 point blowout in the ECC Division I Championship, NFA is looking to be crowned the Girls LL state tournament champions this season, and by the looks of it, this accomplishment is not that far out of reach.