By John Goralski
Farmington pushed their way to a double digit lead midway through the first quarter and stretched it to a 20-6 lead by the first break. Early in the second quarter, the Indians were doubling the Lady Knights, 22-11, and were threatening to put the game away by halftime.
But the Lady Knights weren’t about to go quietly.
With a 20 game home winning streak at stake, the girls battled back. With a postseason home game still in sight, the Knights weren’t about to shy away from a battle against a top 10 team in the state.
“I give them a lot of credit. A lot of teams would have packed it in—especially after all that we’ve been through this week—but they didn’t,” said Southington coach Mike Forgione. “We kept fighting. Hopefully we’ll learn from this and rest up for next week.”
The Knights didn’t mount a miracle comeback, but they cut the lead to seven points by the half and kept the deficit within single digits through the start of the final quarter. Natalie Wadolowski scored 10 points with 14 rebounds, and Kaitlin Paterson (5 points, 6 rebounds) led the defense with three steals and a trio of blocks. Maggie Meehan finished with 11 points, and Sarah Mongillo finished with 10 boards as the Knights out-rebounded the larger Farmington squad, 44-43.
Farmington held on for a 76-54 win to snap a Southington home winning streak that began at the start of the 2012-13 season, but the Knights held their own despite facing three different opponents in a four game stretch without a practice.
“I think we were a little bit drained,” said Forgione. “I just told the kids that sometimes you’re going to get knocked down, but you just have to get back up. That was our pre-game speech. We knew they were going to knock us down. We were tired, and they’re a good team. But we kept getting back up.”
Southington played just five varsity players against the Indians (15-2) after a tough four-day stretch that depleted the junior varsity and varsity squads.
The loss came on the heels of conference victories over NW Catholic and Newington, and it snapped a five-game winning streak that started in mid-January. Still, Forgione said that there is little time to celebrate. His Knights still need another win or two to secure a home tournament game, and the girls have just three more games to do it.
“We’re at Hall on Tuesday and Simsbury at home on Friday,” said the coach. “In our league, you don’t get many nights off. We’re just going to have to come back on Sunday ready to work because we have two tough games next week.”
Southington began their week with a 43-37 win over NW Catholic on Tuesday, Feb. 4 to avenge a road loss in early January. Wadolowski dominated inside with 20 points and 16 rebounds. Sarah Mongillo (6 points) anchored the defense with 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. Meehan scored eight points with three steals. Nicole Fischer (7 points) and Paterson (7 rebounds) contributed.
The Knights trailed by one point at the half as they struggled with NW Catholic’s aggressive man-to-man defense, but Southington went on a 15-8 rally in the third quarter to take the lead for good.
“NW Catholic was really aggressive, so we had to match their aggressiveness, be disciplined, and make plays,” said Forgione. “We did that.”
Snow pushed the next day’s game to Thursday, but Southington never missed a step. Newington tried to slow the pace with a disciplined 2-3 zone defense, but the Knights countered with three players shooting over 40 percent in the victory.
Wadolowski led the way with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Fischer chipped in two three pointers to score 13 points, and Meehan added 11 points with five assists and three steals. Once again, Mongillo anchored the middle with six points and 12 rebounds. Southington opened a two-point lead at the half but surged to a 47-39 win.
“I told the girls that we had to pick it up in the second half, be more aggressive, get points off transition, and make some shots,” said Forgione. “We knew that we had to have good ball movement and look for that reverse pass to the opposite wing. We told our shooters that they had to be ready to knock down shots. That’s the only way to get a team out of a zone like that, and we did a nice job.”
With the two wins, Southington improved to 11-6 overall (7-4 in the CCC West). The Knights are currently ranked 18th in the Class LL standings, but are still within striking range of a home game.
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By John Goralski