Mid-February was a momentous time for the Northwestern Regional 7 High School girls basketball team.
One game after head coach Fred Williams recorded his 700th victory as a mentor of the Highlanders, Northwestern grabbed a share of the Berkshire League regular season title with a 55-51 win over Nonnewaug.
Williams, who has coached Northwestern girls hoops since the 1978-79 season, won his 700th game when his club beat Terryville, 57-23. He became only the second coach in state history to notch 700 wins. He only needed four to break the record and be the all-time leader. Masuk’s Dave Strong has 704 coaching victories.
Maddie Topa’s 25 points paced the Highlanders against Nonnewaug while Morgan Plitt added 11.
“To reach 700, it means I have been around for a long, long time,” Williams said. “It’s hard to believe I have been doing this for so long. I do love being with our players and watching them mature as players and young adults. Having players from earlier teams coming back to support us and watch games is pretty awesome. Monday we had players that were on my first team here watching celebrating with us. They started the run to 700.”
Williams said the success of the program is due to many factors, citing “great assistant coaches, players that were willing to work hard and improve their game, in and out of season.”
“Also,” Williams said, “to have the support of the Board of Education, the school administration and the parents has made Northwestern a great place to teach and coach…I have coached at Northwestern since the fall of 1974 at least one season and for many years three seasons. I started with Middle School soccer and basketball my first year and eventually did Middle School softball as well. It has been a wonderful experience.”
Williams also coached the high school’s boys and girls soccer teams and has piled up over 900 wins counting all Regional 7 teams.
Northwestern concluded its regular season beating Nonnewaug in Woodbury, only a game after they gave their coach his 700th win. TheHighlanders concluded the regular campaign with a gaudy 19-1 mark. Talia Brodnitzki had 21 points and Topa 20 to lead Northwestern.
“This year’s team is a closely knit group,” Williams said. “They constantly support each other through game and practices as well as in their daily lives. For leaders, we look to the two captains, Morgan Plitt and Tal Brodnitzki, but with this group they all are positive people looking to help others.”
Williams said he believed coming into the season that he had a good team on his hands: “I said to the girls and repeated it throughout the year that this could be a special year and special it is. Any goal that we would talk about is to make sure you are giving it your best effect, whether that effort leads to a win or a loss. When a game or other task is done, did you give it your all? If you can say yes then the goal was met.”
After the games, Northwestern set about preparing for the Berkshire League playoffs and state tournament.