By JOHN GORALSKI
Rocky Hill never knew what hit them. Freshman Hartlee Meier came out of the gates shooting, converting three of her four baskets in the opening quarter. Maggie Meehan scored twice. Natalie Wadolowski scored twice, and Kaitlin Paterson finished with a free throw and a bucket.
Rocky Hill shooters scrambled for nine points before the first break, but Southington shooters doubled that output.
Last year, it took two overtimes to overcome an early deficit against Rocky Hill. This time, Southington was taking no chances.
“Our motto this game was that we had to match their aggressiveness off the start,” said Lady Knight basketball coach Mike Forgione. “We fell into a hole last year, and we had to fight our way back to win a double-overtime thriller at Rocky Hill. So I told them this time, let’s go out and attack the rim and be aggressive. Let’s make our shots, and the kids did a good job.”
The Lady Knights never trailed as Southington built a seven-point lead at the break and cruised toa 56-34 win. Rocky Hill managed to out-score the Knights by one point in the middle quarters, but Southington finished the game with a 21-7 run over the final 8 minutes.
Wadolowski paced the attack with 16 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, and three blocks despite a size disadvantage in the paint.
“We’re trying to work the ball inside-out when we can, and Natalie works so hard inside,” Forgione said. “She’s the type of kid that you sometimes have to watch the film to appreciate what she’s doing inside. She’s on girls, a lot of times, that are a lot bigger than her, and she’s playing banged up. She doesn’t complain, and she keeps working in the post. She did a great job for us.”
Wadolowski was matched by Meehan on the perimeter. The sophomore guard posted 16 points, five assists, five boards, and a trio of three-pointers. The one-two punch proved too much for Rocky Hill’s defenders.
Paterson scored seven points with nine rebounds and three steals. Southington out-rebounded Rocky Hill, 48-30, and held the Terriers to just 24.5 percent shooting.
“We need Maggie to run the show. We need Kaitlin to be that senior presence out there, making big shots, and we need Natalie inside,” said Forgione. “If all three are playing well, despite our two injuries, we can still be tough team. I think they showed that tonight.”
Southington continues to get key contributions from the underclassmen and newcomers. Meier finished with eight points and three rebounds. Junior Kayla Kavanagh collected seven points and seven rebounds. Ten different players contributed for the Knights with six different players scoring.
Forgione said that the 3-0 start is beginning to build confidence as the team continues to grow beyond their early injuries to their projected starters.
“We were a little nervous going into the season. I think those injuries got into our psyche a little bit, but I told them to just play and leave it out there,” said the coach. “I think that, each game we play, our confidence grows a little bit…We still have a lot of things to work on, but it’s going to be a tough game for whoever plays us. We’re going to play hard.”
The girls will try to continue their momentum this week with a conference road game at Conard (2-1) on Tuesday and a non-conference game against Bristol Central (1-3), at home, on Saturday. Varsity tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
To comment on this story or to reach Observer editor John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.