By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knights (17-3) put the final touches on their regular season on Monday, Feb. 15 with a comfortable 54-39 victory at home over Suffield (10-8).
With the victory, the Knights tied Conard (17-3) for a share of the conference title. For Southington, it’s the first regular season title since 1997. Both teams finished the regular season with a 15-3 record in the CCC, 6-2 in the Blue Division of the CCC Central Region.
Knights beat Bulldogs
The Knights achieved their largest victory of the season on Tuesday, Feb. at home against Bulkeley (1-18) in a 56-14 triumph over the Bulldogs. Southington had mounted a 29-6 lead by halftime.
Diana Verderame (2 blocks) paced the Knights with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds, 11 coming on the defensive end. Kristen Longley and Kayla Kavanagh (4 rebounds, 3 blocks) contributed with nine points apiece, and Meehan and Meier (4 assists) helped out with eight points each. Natalie Wadolowski grabbed 17 rebounds, 11 on defense.
Beating the big man
The Knights traveled to Avon (10-9) on Thursday, Feb. 11 where they defeated the Falcons by eight points, 45-37, despite Avon’s 6-foot-3 Wisconsin recruit, Abby Laszewski. Southington held the big man to 13 points (5.5 under her season average).
“Natalie [Wadolowski] did an unbelievable job face-guarding her,” the coach said. “We also got help on her from the back side and sandwiched her. They have more than just Abby in the post with some really athletic guards in Kaleigh Sherman and Alex Benedict. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but it was a total team win.”
Natalie’s seven points in the first quarter shot the Knights out to an 18-7 lead at the end of the opening quarter of play. A contribution of six points from Janette Wadolowski in the second quarter extended the Knights’ lead to 13 by halftime.
In the third quarter, the Knight’s lead had slimmed down a little, but Sarah Minkiewicz stepped up to score four points in the quarter and help Southington hold on to a 10-point lead, 36-26. Janette Wadolowski went 3-for-5 from the foul line in the fourth as a part of her seven points in the quarter to help lock the road win.
Although different players took turns contributing points each quarter, Southington coach Mike Forgione said that it wasn’t points that got the Knights the win, it was simply a team effort.
“We did a nice job sharing the basketball, played good help defense, and communicated,” said Southington coach Mike Forgione. “Janette had 19, but a lot of scorers contributed.”
Janette Wadolowski also had four rebounds, three steals, and two blocks to go along with her 19 points. Natalie Wadolowski (4 steals) helped out Janette with nine points and five rebounds. Meier (3 assists, 2steals) added seven points on a pair of three’s and Sarah Minkiewicz (2 steals, 2 blocks) contributed six points and five rebounds. Maggie Meehan finished with three assists and three steals, and Kavanagh led the team with six rebounds.
Regular Season Finale
The first quarter of Monday night’s game featured four ties, but it was Southington that came out on top with a 16-12 lead. By halftime, the Knights extended their lead to 12 points, 29-17, and had a tight grip on the win, heading into the fourth quarter with a 23-point lead.
Natalie Wadolowski anchored the Knights with 14 points and Janette Wadolowski backed her big sister with 11. Hartlee Meier scored a season-high 10 points and Sarah Minkiewicz added six. Kayla Kavanagh came off the bench to score five points.
Seniors Natalie Wadolowski and Kayla Kavanagh were honored before the game.
Kelly Canucci and McKenzie Rusczyk both led the Wildcats with 11 each.
Now, the Knights turn their attention to the upcoming conference tournament. Southington coach Mike Forgione said that whoever they play will be a tough out.
As far as his team goes, Forgione said that he has complete confidence in every player he puts on the floor, but it’s going to take a team effort to succeed in the conference tournament.
“We don’t have that dominating player that’s just going to score 40 and take over a game,” said Forgione. “What we have are a lot of good players that do their job and know their roles.”
The Knights finished the regular season ranked seventh in Class LL behind Mercy (19-1), E.O. Smith (17-2), Trumbull (17-2), Fairfield Warde (16-2), Stamford (16-2), and Conard. As other teams in the conference finish their regular season, the Knights will await to see who they will host in the first round of the conference tournament on Thursday, Feb. 18.
For game times and updated brackets, visit www.centralconnecticutconference.org.