A berth in the state tournament later this winter would be a well-deserved prize for New Milford High School's hard-working girls' basketball team.

Qualification, however, is not a given for coach Bill Kersten's Green Wave.

The NMHS quintet wasted much of an 11-point lead Tuesday in Oxford but hung on to score a much-needed victory, 42-40.

The `W' improved the Green Wave to 4-6 at the season's mid-point, on course to the eight wins it would need to play in the state class `LL' tournament.

"We have struggled all year to score," coach Kersten admitted Wednesday, "so we have to manufacture wins... we rely on two constants, our defense and effort, which for the majority of the time have both been very good this year."

Tuesday's game marked just the second time all season the Green Wave has scored as many as 40 points. The girls had outscored Bethel, 45-31, on Dec. 14.

Other wins have come over Wamogo, 31-30 in Dec. 7's season opener and over Immaculate, 35-34, Dec. 27 in Danbury.

Scoring has come in bunches from perimeter shooters Jess Noteware, with games of 13, 15 and 16 points, and Morgan Gallagher, who fired in 19 vs. Wamogo and 20 vs. Bethel to lead those victories.

Point guard Juliana Fusco has played a solid floor game and Erin Kersten has anchored the team's tenacious defense, highlighting her efforts by holding Brookfield's high-scoring Julia DePoi to four points.

Kersten, Ally LaPorte and Emily Llerena have accumulated many of the Green Wave's rebounds.

"We feel like we have left several victories out there," said coach Kersten. "However, we feel like we still have a legitimate shot at making the state tournament and possibly even our league tournament."

"We need to finish our scoring opportunities," he concuded, "and continue to play good defense, rebound, improve our foul shooting, and learn to close out games."

The NMHS `5' will have its next chance to show those improvements today (Friday) as it hosts Pomperaug at 7 p.m.

Norm Cummings

Photography by Norm Cummings