By BRIAN JENNINGS
It took two overtimes before the Lady Knights (17-3) were eliminated from the CCC Tournament on Monday, Feb. 22. The Knights advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament, where they fell short, 66-62, to No.2-seed E.O. Smith (18-2) at Glastonbury High School.
E.O. Smith is currently ranked third in Class LL behind Mercy (19-1) and Fairfield Warde (18-2).
Knights eliminated in conference semifinals
The Knights held a slim one-point lead at the end of the opening quarter, 15-14, but EO Smith clawed their way back to take a one-point lead, 27-26, heading into the locker rooms at halftime.
The Panthers built a four point lead at the close of the third quarter, but the Knights made things interesting down the stretch. Clinging to a three point lead with under a minute to go in the game, the Panthers turned the ball over. Southington called a timeout with 15.6 seconds left on the clock.
Janette Wadolowski drove the lane off the inbound pass and kicked the ball out to Maggie Meehan near the Southington bench. Meehan fired a contested three pointer and drained the shot with 7 seconds left.
Both teams had chances to win in the final moments of regulation, but Wadolowski’s midrange jumper rimmed out as time expired.
Then the game shifted to overtime.
The first overtime featured four ties, but the final seconds of the period rested in the hands of Meehan. With the game tied at 55-55, she took another contested three from the top corner of the arc. This time, it ricocheted off the backboard and rimmed out.
The Panthers set the pace in the second overtime, hitting two straight three-pointers to score the first six points of the period. Hartlee Meier tied the contest at 62-62 with a three with just under a minute to go, but the Panthers answered with a quick basket down at the other end to go up 64-62 with 33.1 seconds remaining.
A turnover on Southington’s next possession ultimately ended the game, interrupting a pass that floated through the paint on a kick out from a dribble drive.
“They were jumping the ball and we were trying to set some screens for Janette to get her open inside the paint,” said Southington coach Mike Forgione. “They did a nice job of jumping the pass and disrupting us. They made some plays that we didn’t make. They are a well-coached, athletic team.”
Janette Wadolowski scorched the net with a season high of 31 points. Meehan contributed 13 points on a pair of three’s and Meier added seven, also with a pair of triples.
McKenna Dale led the Panthers with 33 points.
“This was a tournament that we came to win, but we just came up a little bit short,” said Forgione. “Give E.O. Smith credit. They made some plays and we had our chances a couple times. Sometimes, it’s just the way the ball bounces.”
Forgione said that foul shooting and rebounding hurt the team the most. The Knights missed 11 foul shots in the game and their leading rebounder, Natalie Wadolowski, fouled out.
“We never shoot that bad from the line,” the coach said. “We haven’t missed 11 foul shots in the last five games. We knew that they were an aggressive team and I told my kids that they have to keep playing hard like they have all year. Unfortunately, they got a few second and third opportunities a few times, and made us pay.”
Lady Knights slay the Blue Dragons
The No. 3 Knights began their conference tournament by defeating No.14 Middletown (12-8), 72-46, at home in the first round on Thursday. The Knights mounted a 29-point lead, 44-15, by halftime.
Janette Wadolowski (4 assists, 3 steals) paced the Knights with 22 points and four rebounds. Meehan contributed with 15 points and Meier added 13 on a trio of three’s. Natalie Wadolowski grabbed 10 rebounds and scored eight points.
Brielle Wilborn led Blue Dragons with 15 points.
Knights stomp Beavers
In the quarterfinals, Southington advanced with a 65-43 home win over sixth-ranked Weaver (17-3) on Saturday. The Knights held a 33-26 lead by halftime and outscored the Beavers 32-17 in the second half.
Janette Wadolowski (3 assists) anchored the Knights with 29 points and six rebounds. Janette went 5-for-6 from the free throw line. Natalie Wadolowski (4 steals) produced a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
State scoring leader, Shaquana Edwards, scored 13 points in the game, but went down with an injury in the first half, missing the second half. Melicia Mendez led the Beavers with 21 points.
Now, Southington will turn its attention to the Class LL state tournament. Pairings for the tournament will be announced by the CIAC by noon on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
Southington should be the seventh seed and will likely face Norwalk (10-10) in a first round home game.
To see up to date brackets, visit www.ciacsports.com/tournamentcentral.shtml.