By John Goralski
Last year the Lady Knights had just one chance to play for double digit wins, but it was spoiled by a postseason loss. What a difference a year makes.
Southington dispatched two opponents last week to improve to 10-3. A two-point victory over Simsbury at the start of the week, avenged a rare early season loss. A 12-point win over New Britain on Friday catapulted the Knights to the top of the conference standings.
Over the next eight games, a lot of questions will be answered. Can the Knights make a run at a conference title? Can they host their first postseason game since 2009? Will their lack of depth catch up with them as the season wears on? Coach Mike Forgione isn’t looking that far ahead.
“We just have to take it one game at a time. We really do,” said the coach. “We’re battling. We’re trying to coach our butts off. We’re trying to practice our butts off and play our butts off. We’re only playing six kids, but those are the six we’re going to go with. I’ll tell you what. They deserve their minutes on the floor. They’re good kids. They work hard in school. They do good things in the community. They deserve those minutes. They’re earning them, and they’re playing well.”
Defense and come-from-behind rallies have become the hallmarks of this Lady Knight team. Against Simsbury, the Knights fell behind 9-0 but recovered with 10-3 run at the end of the first quarter. The Trojans regained the lead at the start of the second half, but Southington battled back again with a 14-4 rally in the final eight minutes.
“I was really proud of the kids. We were down eight after three [quarters], and I told them that they had to dig down deep,” said Forgione. “We’re not the most emotional team. We don’t yell. We don’t have that type of personality, but I could see it in their eyes.”
Danielle Charamut led the way with 12 points. Maeghan Chapman and Kaitlin Paterson scored eight points apiece. Stephanie O’Keefe converted a pair of three pointers, and the Knights came away with a 38-36 win.
“Every quarter of every game they’re going to leave it out on the floor,” said the coach. “Some nights we don’t shoot well. Some nights we may make a few mistakes, but the effort is always going to be there. I think that our effort was the difference tonight.”
That effort spilled over to Friday’s contest. Southington struggled early with their shooting, but a 12-3 rally in the second quarter put the game out of reach. The Knights led by 10 at the break and held on for a 43-31 win.
O’Keefe paced the scoring with 12 points and anchored the defense with three steals. The Hurricanes held Chapman (2 steals) and Charamut (5 rebounds, 1 block) to just 11 points between them, but Paterson scored all 11 of her points in the second half. Southington held on for a 43-31 win.
“We struggled a little bit early with our shooting, but the kids battled again,” said Forgione. “We stayed the course, and we found a way to get another win at a difficult place to play.”
Now, the Knights will turn their attention to Weaver (10-3) and Newington (7-6).
“We’re in a three-way tie with NW Catholic and Farmington for the conference,” Forgione said. “We’ve got a huge week next week with no letup. It’s not going to be easy with both games on the road.”
Can they continue their momentum? That’s the only question Forgione is asking.