REDDING, Conn. – Joel Barlow High School senior Drew Bartro started playing basketball with teammates Sarah McAniff and Victoria Shea in fifth grade. Last month, Bartro and her teammates produced one of the Falcons’ longest winning streaks in years.
Bartro led Barlow on a nine-game winning streak from late December through January. The senior center was selected The Weston/Redding/Easton Daily Voice Athlete of the Month.
Bartro has been a force on both ends of the floor for the Falcons (11-6), who are locked in a tight battle for one of the South-West Conference’s eight playoff berths. In a 55-45 win over Bunnell, she scored 22 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked five shots. In a 45-33 victory over Bethel, she scored 22 points, collected eight rebounds and blocked 12 shots. In seven of Barlow’s wins during the streak, she had double-figure points and rebounds.
“Experience has played a big part, and she has become a lot more confident in her outside shot,’’ coach Joe Carollo said. “If I need a player for a three-pointer in a clutch situation, she’s the one. Drew has such great form.”
Bartro and her senior classmates, including Kelly Gilbert, have led the team on a solid four-year run. After going 6-14 as a freshman, Barlow has produced double-digit victories in each of the last three years, and the Falcons have 43 wins over the last three seasons.
“We all wanted to work have hard and have a great senior year,’’ Bartro said. “These girls are my best friends. We’ve had this dream of playing together for the high school team since were in fifth grade. The chemistry between us is great. I don’t think I could play without them.”
She has also improved on the defensive end, Carollo said. “I think she has learned how to block shots with more finesse,’’ he said. “Before she wanted to make statement blocks, but she’d get a lot of fouls. When she’s on the bench, she’s not helping anybody. She’s blocking with a little more with better timing, and she’s not picking up fouls.”
Bartro chose not to continue playing basketball in college and will attend the University of Kansas and perhaps play at the club level. “Coming from a small town, I didn’t want to go to a school that was the size of my high school,’’ she said. “I love basketball, and I would’ve loved to have played. But I think going to Kansas is a good decision for me.”
But for now, the priority is to reach the league playoffs. The Falcons’ experience will also make them a dangerous opponent in the Class L tournament. Barlow won one game in the Class L tournament last year before getting eliminated. Bartro hopes the team has a little more staying power this year.
“I would really like to make it past the second round. I think we can do that. If we keep our composure and do all the little stuff, we’ll be fine. For us it’s all about having fun. I think when we go out and have fun, we all play a little bit better.”