There are miles to go before the Shepaug Valley High girls' basketball team is a serious contender for Berkshire League laurels.

After all, the Spartans have yet to challenge the league's elite -- Thomaston, Nonnewaug and Lewis Mills -- in their meetings to date.

Yet coach Karen Puskas' young hardcourt quintet has shown a knack for outplaying the rest of its foes, to the tune of an impressive 8-3 record, as the season passes its halfway point.

After absorbing a 69-37 lesson from visiting Thomaston on Jan. 6 (see photos), the Spartan girls eased past host Gilbert 50-32 on Jan. 9 in Winsted and completed a season sweep of neighboring Wamogo with a 42-40 victory Jan. 13 in Litchfield.

Nonnewaug brought the local girls back to earth last Friday, Jan. 16, with a 43-23 verdict in Washington.

The girls were faced with another serious challenge Tuesday, Jan. 20, when Lewis Mills paid a visit to town for a battle of Spartans.

With eight games to play after that, coach Puskas and Co. have already qualified for the state Class S tournament with their eight wins.

Yet very much on their agenda will be to hone their game down the stretch to give some higher seeded tournament rival they're inevitably to meet a good game.

Next up for the Spartans will be a trip north to Falls Village Friday, Jan. 23, to take on Housatonic Valley Regional.

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Norm Cummings

Photography by Norm Cummings