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Hubbard’s practice work helps in win over Niles

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Hubbard freshman Peytyn Slovesko (33) pulls down a rebound Thursday night against Niles. She recorded a game-high 14 points, including three 3-pointers.

HUBBARD — After weeks of being locked down, there’s action back on the court across Trumbull Country.

Going into Thursday evening, Niles and Hubbard were a pair of teams looking to find their first win of the season after dropping opening night contests within the Northeast-8 Conference.

Both teams field young rosters and placed an emphasis on finding meaningful minutes early in the season as coaches figure out rotations following a lot of missed time.

Following a close first quarter, the Eagles went on an imposing 14-2 run before halftime to fend off the Red Dragons at home, 46-21.

The key to Hubbard’s success? Practice. Practice. Practice.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Niles senior Arissa Johnson, left, looks for an open teammate during the second half.

“I’m so happy for the girls. They put in a lot of work after the shutdown Trumbull County did,” Eagles coach Scott Slovesko said. “I asked them to do something that I’m sure a lot of programs didn’t do. We went twice a day, we came in at 8 a.m., worked out for an hour and a half, then we came back in at 3:30 p.m.”

Some of that hard work showed itself on the defensive end of the floor as Hubbard limited Niles to only nine field goals during the course of the evening and held the Red Dragons to under seven or more points in each quarter.

Five different Eagles scored during the team’s massive second quarter, which set up a 23-9 lead going into the locker room, and helped a young roster with only two upperclassman build confidence.

“We’re so young, I think we’re going to go through growing pains,” Slovesko said. “But they’re sticking together as a team, and that’s the main thing. They’re playing together and they’re a family.”

One of the new faces at the varsity level is freshman Peytyn Slovesko, who recorded a game-high 14 in the winning effort.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Hubbard sophomore Sophie Murphy, middle, shoots while being fouled in the midst of the Niles defense during the second half. She tallied 10 points in the win.

“I felt like we played together as a team, and this is going to keep us going through the season,” she said, as nine of her 14 points came on 3-pointers. “My team helped me a lot, we swung the ball, and I got wide open shots.”

Niles went on a 6-1 run to start the second half with field goals from senior Emma Flanigan and freshman Katie Heinsleman, but it would be all Eagles the rest of the way, as Hubbard would outscore Niles 23-17 to close out the game.

Hubbard (1-1, 1-1 NE8) sophomore Sophie Murphy also hit double-figures with 10 points and is happy to be back playing basketball.

“It feels great, we really got through (the shutdown) as a team, and we’re really going do good this year,” she said. “We talked a lot, and after we came back, we put a lot of work in to prepare for the season.”

Junior Grace Narkum helped pace the team offensively with seven points.

With the first win under their belts, coach Slovesko feels that things will ease in going forward.

“Just the confidence, we’re changing the program here, and we’re changing the culture,” he said. “It’s just different, a win like that it just builds so much with the team, and it gives them so much confidence, and that’s the main thing.”

Niles (0-2, 0-2 NE8) was led by Heinsleman with nine points and freshman Carly Orsine adding four. Red Dragons coach MaKayla Butler starts a pair of freshmen in the form of Maddie Davis and Heinsleman, and Butler is developing a team that has three seniors, two sophomores, and seven freshmen.

“We graduated our four-year point guard, so we’re trying to get these girls to learn our system and get them playing at the varsity level,” she said. “So, it’s going to take some time, but they’re playing the minutes, and those other freshmen are playing as well, and we’re just going to keep moving day-by-day.”

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