Thursday, June 24, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Newell’s Charging Up the Rams’ Offense

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After transferring from Mercy following her freshman year, junior guard Marissa Newell has caught the attention of many opposing Shoreline Conference squads with her versatile offensive abilities for Rams’ girls’ basketball.

After transferring from Mercy following her freshman year, junior guard Marissa Newell has caught the attention of many opposing Shoreline Conference squads with her versatile offensive abilities for Rams’ girls’ basketball. (Photo courtesy of Marissa Newell)

In only her second year with Old Saybrook girls’ basketball, Marissa Newell has quickly developed into one of the more deadly scoring threats in the Shoreline Conference, while helping the Rams establish a solid foundation for the future.

Marissa, a junior guard, started with softball and soccer before being introduced to hoops during middle school. After transferring from Mercy to Old Saybrook following her freshman year, Marissa fit right in with the Rams and has helped guide them to some better play of late—including a recent 38-35 triumph at postseason-bound North Branford—while finding her shooting stroke in averaging nine points per game, to go with four rebounds and three steals a night.

“Honestly, the players around me make me a better player. Our communication is good. They know where I’ll be at certain times and I’ll know where they’ll be. They set screens and make passes to me at the right moments,” Marissa says. “I always try to watch other players and replicate some of what they do. I always practice my outside shots in the offseason and we also do layups with our own individual techniques in practice. I just try to have fun in games and let things flow.”

Marissa doesn’t rely on a certain cut or a particular pivot when it comes to finding the net. Instead, her offensive success stems from the time-honored intangibles of competitiveness and relentlessness.

“You have to go into each game thinking your team will win, no matter how good the other team may be. You always have to think you can win,” says Marissa, who made All-Shoreline Conference Honorable Mention in soccer last fall and also does outdoor track for the Rams. “Even if we are down 40 points, I want to score. I still try my best and hardest and, to me, it’s so important to never give up.”

While noting Marissa’s prowess in other sports at Old Saybrook, girls’ basketball coach Steve Woods says that despite her small stature, Marissa fears no obstacle standing between her and the hoop.

“Marissa, at 5-foot-1, is an exciting and talented guard with a great handle and the ability to score both outside and while driving to the hoop,” says Woods. “She is an outstanding student and has caught the attention of opposing Shoreline basketball coaches. She also had a very good initial year playing soccer this year and competes as a talented outdoor track athlete.”

Even though transferring to new high school can often be a daunting scenario, Marissa’s transition was made easy by some friends from middle school who are currently her teammates. Now that she’s competing alongside them, Marissa will stop at nothing to blow past the opposition by using some illusion and psychology.

“When I made the decision to transfer, I knew I had supportive friends here from my middle school years. It made the choice easy because they all love the sport and really want to play the game,” Marissa says. “Quick thinking in basketball is a natural ability, but I like to ball-fake the defenders. If I’m unsure of what to do with the ball at first, I’ll ball-fake. I also try to get in the opposition’s head and think one step ahead of them and what they’ll do.”

In addition to her time spent on the basketball court, Marissa’s all-around athleticism has also grown as a result of her doing the 4x400 relay and javelin for track, along with racing up and down the pitch in soccer. Now, Marissa wants to use every ounce of skill she has to help her basketball squad finish the winter on a winning note.

“The javelin has helped me with my strength, especially with focusing on my upper-body strength, plus the 4x4 helps with endurance, as does soccer with running,” says Marissa, who thanks her father Joseph, uncle Dan Briotti, and her first basketball coach Tom King. “I think the North Branford win was one of our best games this year. After tough losses, we’ve just been able to forget about it the next day and move onto the next game. We always have to be thinking ahead to the next game and I think this team does that very well.”


John Lecardo covers sports for Guilford, Madison, and Haddam-Killingworth for Zip06. Email John at j.lecardo@shorepublishing.com.

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