NEW BRITAIN - On the first play of Tuesday nightâ€™s Newington girls basketball game against New Britain, senior guard Ashanti Frazier lofted an overhead pass across the width of the court to sophomore guard Karissa Zocco, who promptly drained a 3-pointer to put Newington immediately on the board.
That was enough for the Hurricanes, who saw all they needed to see and immediately put all-conference guard Raven-Symone Jarrett on Zocco for the majority of the rest of the game. New Britain slowed Zocco through much of the first half, but eventually, the breakout sophomore could no longer be contained, dropping a season-high 20 points to help Newington pull away with a 61-43 win.
Such has been the trend for Zocco so far this season. Opposing defenses are quickly learning of her offensive firepower, but knowing still isnâ€™t enough to stop her.
Through seven games (and six Newington wins), Zocco has reached double figures in five contests, and is currently averaging 13.7 points per game, second on the team to Frazier, who is averaging 13.9.
â€śSheâ€™s a really good player,â€ť head coach Marc Tancredi said of Zocco. â€śShe has a really high basketball IQ and a feel for the game. We know sheâ€™s hard to contain and other teams are going to key in on her, but sheâ€™s such a pure shooter that thereâ€™s no doubt in my mind that when she puts it up, itâ€™s going in.â€ť
Tancredi was likely not too surprised at Zoccoâ€™s efficiency on Tuesday night. The sharpshooter drained four 3-pointers, including three in the pivotal second half that helped widen what was only a five-point lead to start the third quarter.
So far this season, Zocco has drained 23 3-pointers, more than three per game, and is hitting at a 38 percent clip. The next highest mark on the team is Frazier at 19 percent.
â€śIf thatâ€™s my role on the team, then I have to perform every night,â€ť Zocco said of her 3-point shooting identity. â€śI may not be on my game some nights, but I have to recognize that and get the ball to my teammates and theyâ€™ll make their shots. Itâ€™s a team effort.â€ť
Zocco showed that unselfishness through the first half of Tuesdayâ€™s game, never forcing up contested shots and instead turning to her teammates to help keep what was a narrow lead through the first 16 minutes of play. But once she began to find openings, she wasnâ€™t afraid to pull the trigger.
Zocco missed just three shots from beyond the arc, going 4-for-7 and sending the Indians to another win.
â€śItâ€™s exciting,â€ť Zocco said. â€śWe had a really good year last year and weâ€™re having just as good of a year this year. We have great team chemistry and we know each otherâ€™s strengths. We pick each other up all the time.â€ť
Zoccoâ€™s offensive numbers have been helped by the facilitating of Frazier, one of the top point guards in the CCC, who demands plenty of attention from opposing defenses. Between the two, Newington has the firepower to make a state tournament run this year, especially if Zocco continues to perform like a seasoned veteran. Itâ€™s only her second season with the team, but between her and Frazier, the Indians have a prolific scoring pair.
â€śItâ€™s a dynamic backcourt,â€ť Tancredi said. â€śItâ€™s great because each of them has a different game and they complement each other. I wouldnâ€™t ask for any other backcourt in the state. They bring a huge dynamic to our offense.â€ť