Category Archives: Western Connecticut

Western Connecticut takes title 80-52 over Alfred

Gabby Hurlbert (11) gets to the basket for two of her twenty-one points.

Captains Genesis Torres, Gabby Hurlbert, and Jessica Davis with the title award

(Danbury CT) Western Connecticut won the Hat City Tournament, 80-52, over Alfred on Monday night.

Third time in four years for the Colonials.

West Conn senior Gabby Hurlbert (21 points) was named tourney MVP.

Gabby also won the award as a freshman.

WC coach Kim Rybczyk used her entire bench to press full-court from the get-go.  The resulting defensive heat created twenty-seven turnovers that led to twenty-six points.

The Saxon (4-7) had trouble scoring early and went down, 24-11, in the first quarter.  It looked like the start of a long evening, but the visitors from western New York made a game of it in the second period.

Sydney Gouveia (10 rebounds) and Ana Ion (All-Tourney)

“Our key word for this weekend was “persistence,” explained AU coach Mike Moskowitz.  “You’re going to get knocked down.  You’re going to turn it over four straight times but that doesn’t decide the fifth time.”

The Saxons got within six points (33-27) and only trailed by eight at halftime.

“I kind of expected that our pressure would tire them out,” said WC coach Kim Rybczyk afterwards, “but it didn’t.”

West Conn’s offense picked up considerably in the second half.

“Sometimes we struggle fundamentally,” said Coach Rybczyk.  “We don’t make layups.  We don’t make the right pass.  We struggled in those areas in the first half but really pulled it together in the second half and made our breakaway.”

Senior Gabby Hurlbert keyed WestConn’s third period success getting twelve of her twenty-one points during that quarter.

Gabby Hurlbert on a drive

Gabby was quick to the basket and set up teammates for scores.

“I was trying to find openings to the basket for myself and my teammates,” explained Gabby post-game.

The Colonials found openings to the rim most of the game.

“We chose to defend the perimeter,” said Coach Moskowitz, “and they only made four from out there.  But we gave them openings to the basket.”

WC had a remarkable fifty-four points in the paint.  During the first half some of the West Conn paint shots weren’t falling.  The second half they were and a 14-4 start to the second half gave the home team the separation needed to win the title game.

West Conn applies pressure

Last year the Colonials pressed full-court and shot quickly.  “I liked the style,” said Coach Rybczyk, “but we didn’t have the numbers to play it.  We had them at the start and put up some impressive stats but then we had injuries.  That style is not something you modify.  You can’t be in and out of it.  This year we’ve kept the full-court press but on offense we push the ball up the court quickly and we settle if we don’t have a shot.”

Jamie Wilcox (1000-point scorer) shoots a free throw

“Their press was very good,” said Coach Moskowitz.  “They have fourteen players used to that style and who are probably in better shape than we are at this point in the season.  We rarely see teams that press the way they do.”

Sophomore Kate Fanning made the All-Tourney team.  Kate had seventeen points in the opening round blowout of SUNY Delhi.

AU’s Ana Ion was selected for an All-Tourney award.  Ana (freshman) tallied twenty points versus Elms in the Saxons’ win on Friday night.

“Ana is a serious offensive threat,” said Coach Moskowitz.  “She can attack off the dribble.”

Gabby Hurlbert – Tourney MVP

Gabby Hurlbert had nineteen points in the championship game in 2016 against Trinity to capture the MVP trophy that year.

Coach Moskowitz: “We spent a day in New York City.  We have kids from California, Texas, and Florida who hadn’t been.  Some of our western New York players hadn’t been, or hadn’t been recently, to NYC.  It was nice to be able to give them that opportunity.”

Gabby Hurlbert (about the team): “I was drawn to Western Connecticut by the family atmosphere.  From freshman year to my senior year I have loved every player I’ve played with.”

Gabby Hurlbert (about her future): “I will probably take a year or two of schooling beyond West Conn.  I want to be an ultra-sound or a radiology technician.”

Last time I was at the Feldman Arena was for my youngest granddaughter’s graduation in June from Newtown High School.

Box from the game

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Ana Ion – All-Tourney

Coach Kim Rybczyk

Gabby Hurlbert (11) gets her hand in the passing lane.

Sunsana Almeida (3)

Sydney Gouveia (34) guards Gillian Flint (20)

Gabby Hurlbert dribbles in front of the WestConn bench

Hannah Maghini (22) puts up a runner

Jessica Davis (4) and Gillian Flint (20)

Kate Fanning (30) and Lyndsey McCoy (11)


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Western Connecticut scores 100 for the 6th time routing Newbury 118-68

Jancy Sherwood (25 points) hit six three’s against Newbury

Taylor Kelley (24) defends Genesis Torres (23)

(Danbury CT) “This is a whole new way of playing,” WestConn coach Kimberley Rybczyk told me afterwards.  No doubt about it.

Western Connecticut started fast, played everyone in every quarter, and routed Newbury, 118-68, in the opening game of the WCSU Hat City Tournament on Friday night.

During this past off-season, Coach Rybczyk decided to challenge herself and switched to an uptempo style. “I have been coaching twenty-five years and chose to come out of my comfort zone.  I spent the whole summer studying this style of play.”

Today was the sixth time the 6-4 Colonels have gone over one hundred points.

Western Connecticut was a bad matchup for the visiting Newbury Nighthawks.  They have been averaging 64 points per game and even though they passed that number against WCSU they still lost by fifty!

Newbury (5-5) was overwhelmed by the pace and the pressure from the get-go.  During a two-minute stretch in the first quarter a 3-2 game became 15-2.  It went downhill from there.

Coach Kimberley Rybczyk in front of the WestConn bench

One feature of the WestConn style of play was a complete change of players every few minutes.  “I want kids that are part of my program to get their feet out on the floor,” said Coach Rybczyk.  “I told my best players before the season they would play fewer minutes, but they would get twice as many shots and score twice as many points.  When that happened in our first two games, the new style of play was no longer even questioned.”

The steady influx of fresh bodies enabled the Colonels to wear out the Nighthawks in a hurry.

Genesis Torres (23) had seven assists and seven steals

On offense the Colonels ran every time they had the ball.  Later in the game, the speed turned up a steady flow of layups.  Throughout the game, the Colonels got great looks at 3-point shots and drained twenty-one from long range.

Junior Jancy Sherwood led all scorers with twenty-five points including six from beyond the arc.

On defense the Colonels pressured full-court.  The Newbury player inbounding the ball was ignored and the pass in made to be very difficult.  Once the ball was inbounds, a double-team arrived quickly.

In the halfcourt, the Colonels were always looking for places to apply double teams.  Those forty-six Nighthawks miscues tells you how effective WestConn was at it.

Destiny Spears and Jancy Sherwood

Destiny Spears of Newbury may well be the most tired player in Danbury tonight after logging thirty-six minutes.  Destiny finished with a very unusual triple/double: 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 turnovers.

The Nighthawks had a shocking forty-six turnovers in tonight’s loss.  The team from Massachusetts was victimized frequently by double teams that led to bad passes.

Jessica Davis of WestConn had a double/double as she put twelve points together with ten rebounds.

The best stat line of the night may have been by Genesis Torres: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 steals.  Nice work by the Stratford (CT) sophomore.

The Colonels have yet to make the uptempo style work in the Little East Conference where they are currently 0-2.

Good sportsmanship

Kaitlyn LaBonte (last season’s 2nd highest scorer) is injured but is expected to return soon for WestConn.

“I would rather teach the players how to play rather than plays,” said Coach Rybczyk.  “I got tired of teaching kids sets.  I want to teach them how to read, how to react.”

“We are early in on this system,” she added.  “We have plenty to work on.”

Western Connecticut moves on to the finals on Saturday.  Newbury gets the consolation game.

Box from the game

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Jessica Davis (12 points, 10 rebounds)

Jancy Sherwood sets to draw a charge

Megan Hasty (22) had six assists

Emma Belcourt (13 points)

Asiah Knight (12) had eleven rebounds

Tashai Price in for two

Faith Thurmond shoots in traffic




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Darius Watson (30 points) carries Albertus Magnus past Western Connecticut in men’s basketball

Darius Watson (25) powered Albertus Magnus past Western Connecticut.

Darius had fifteen points in each half and added six rebounds and five blocks.

(Danbury)  Both teams had graduated All-Time scorers so there was no certainty about where the points would come from.

However, while Western Connecticut State returned four players from a 21-7 team, Albertus Magnus returned four starters from a 29-2 team.

And it was returning starter Darius Watson (30 points) who  carried Albertus Magnus (1-0) to a 85-79 nonleague win on Tuesday night at Feldman Arena.

The 6-5 junior played the entire game.  He had fifteen points in each half and added six rebounds and five blocks.

The home Colonels (0-3) went behind early but came back to catch the Falcons and lead at halftime, 38-37.  The Colonels shot nearly 50% (15-31) and had nine different players contribute points.

You sensed that if the Colonels could slow down Darius Watson (he already had fifteen points) in the second half the visitors might be in trouble.

James Jennings (20), shooting above the foul line, finished with thirteen points.

But they couldn’t slow Darius down (he got fifteen more points) and teammate James Jennings (13 points) put up eleven points in the second half to help the Falcon cause.

Western’s last lead was 56-55 with 11:38 left.  Over the next 7+ minutes Albertus outscored the Falcons, 22-9, to grab a 77-65 advantage with four minutes left and put this one in the win column.

During the winning run, Darius had two baskets, two rebounds, a steal and a block.  He was the difference maker all game long.

The graduated All-Timers were Ray Askew for team from New Haven and DaQuan Brooks for the team from Danbury.

Ray averaged 24.2 points per game in 2011-12.  The 6-6 graduate also holds the Falcons school record in rebounds.

DaQuan totaled 2269 points during his career with Western.  He is also the all-time assist leader at WCSU.

Ryan Pelletier (4) fires a three over James Jennings (20).

On a first look it seemed apparent to me that Western is still trying to sort out who will be carrying the scoring load.  Colonel coach Bob Campbell had eleven players score but Ryan Pelletier’s fourteen points was high for the game.

Albertus, on the other hand, seemed quite certain about where the production would come from.  Five player played twenty minutes or more and three players (Jefferson Lora, James Jennings, and Mike Sweeney) also reached double figures.  Mike Sweeney (6-6) was the big surprise getting eleven points in seventeen minutes.

Albertus Magnus is from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.  They dominated that league last year (18-0) and are favored by the ten other coaches in that league, in a preseason poll, to dominate again.

The Falcons finished the 2011-12 season ranked 20th in D3 Hoops national poll.

Western will next host Trinity on November 28th at 7PM.

box score

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

WSCU coach Bob Campbell afterwards

Russell Payton (12) looks for an opening.

Phil Starks (3) looks to the basket

Ryan Pelletier

James Economopoulos

Russell Payton (12) tries to stop Julian Sanders (22)

Luis Bridtter (0) shoots over Lemar Larsen (30)

Leroy Mayers under heavy Falcon defensive pressure.

Julian Sanders gets medical attention.

Lemar Larsen (30) flies in for two.

Joseph Groski (left) and Jefferson Lora (right)

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