Masuk girls basketball team prepares for playoffs

Hannah Fagan goes for a loose ball.

MONROE, CT — Masuk High’s girls basketball team (15-4 overall) has just one regular-season game left before the Panthers move on and compete in the South-West Conference and State Tournament.

The Panthers will close out the regular slate Tuesday, Feb. 13, when New Fairfield visits for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Coach Dan Young’s Panthers have dominated much of the competition this winter, but have also been tested, even in victories. The team’s latest loss, a hard-fought 49-42 setback at Newtown on Thursday, brings with it a silver lining.

“I’m proud of my girls. They played hard all the way to the end,” Young said.

And the playoff-like test can only help the young Panthers as they get set for nothing but tough competition and win or go home scenarios in the postseason.

“You’ve got to have that us against the world mentality,” Young said.

Masuk and Newtown both carried impressive 15-3 marks into this matchup. Both are competing for one of the top spots, and a first-round home game, in the SWC playoffs.

Masuk got off to a good start and built an early lead. Bailey Bajda hit a pair of free throws for a 23-12 advantage with 2:14 to go before the half. Masuk held a 23-16 halftime lead.

Grace Kearney moves up the court as Charlotte Pinto (No. 1) joins the play.

Newtown outscored the Panthers 19-7 in the third to seize a 35-30 advantage going to the fourth.

The Panthers kept things close with Dani Dube and Charlotte Pinto hitting 3-pointers and Grace Kearney scoring a couple of buckets.

Masuk was led by Dube with a dozen points, Bajda with 11, and Kearney and Pinto each with nine.

The Panthers were coming off four straight wins, following up a 55-49 overtime victory over Bethel on Feb. 1 with a 66-55 win over Stratford on Feb. 5.

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