Masuk Girls Basketball: Winning now and eyeing future success

Masuk Head Coach Dan Young's holds the attention of his players during a time out. His Panthers are gaining attention around the SWC this year with a torrid 9-1 start.

MONROE, CT — What a season for Masuk High’s girls basketball team to this point. Ten contests down and nine victories has the Panthers already qualified for the state playoffs as they look to bolster their South-West Conference standing.

Something that makes this success all the more impressive is that the Panthers boast a starting lineup featuring three sophomores and a freshman.

The future sure looks bright, but these Panthers are focused on trying to cash in this winter with an SWC title and deep run in the state playoffs.

“It’s definitely a realistic goal we can achieve,” senior starter Hannah Fagan said.

Bailey Bajda pushes the pace as Masuk moves up the court in its win over Pomperaug.

Fagan and senior Olivia Garrity bring leadership to a team loaded with sophomores.

Sophomore starters Grace Kearney, Bailey Bajda and Charlotte Pinto, sophomore Grace Sheppard and freshman starter Dani Dube have been key to the Panthers’ winning ways with other players getting time on the court in a complete team effort.

“We’ve been getting contributions from a different person every night,” said Masuk Head Coach Dan Young, adding it makes the Panthers a difficult team to prepare to play against.

In addition to many players bringing clutch plays to the table, it is a collective effort on the court night in and night out.

“Our ball movement and our ability to use each other to get better — that’s been our biggest strength,” Young said.

The camaraderie has also give this group a spark.

Dani Dube and the Masuk Panthers improved to 9-1.

“I feel like our team chemistry is really great,” Bajda said. “We are really close, which shows on the court.”

Masuk has a trio of players averaging double figures in points with Bajda leading the way with 15.2 per game, Dube scoring 12.5 and Kearney logging 11.3. Additionally, Fagan supplies a little over seven points per game with Pinto averaging nearly three points a game.

But as much as the offense has fueled this hot start, the defense has also come up big.

“For us, it all starts defensively,” Young said.

Dube averages 1.9 blocks per game, Bajda averages a block per tilt, Kearney averages nearly a block per game and Fagan has averaged a bit more than a block every other contest.

Bajda has come up with 2.4 steals per game, with Kearney (1.7), Fagan (1.6), Dube (1.5) and Pinto (1.3) also pitching in with some thievery.

The average rebounds and assists are impressive too. Dube has logged an average of 9.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game; Bajda has 8.4 rebounds and four assists; Fagan has 7.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists, Kearney 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists; and Pinto 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists.

With such a young overall squad, the Panthers are improving as they go … and winning.

Grace Kearney goes up for a shot.

“We’re getting better each day and looking forward to the next win,” Young said.

With nine wins under their belts and the season only at the halfway point, the Panthers stand to pile up a lot more victories. There will be some tough tests ahead, including defending SWC champion New Milford, always tough Newtown and others on the slate, but things sure are looking up for Young’s squad.

“It feels amazing. We’re off to a great start and I can’t wait to see what we can do in the next games,” said Fagan, who is excited for the future of the program. “Since we’re sophomore dominant they’re just going to keep getting better and better.”

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