By BRIAN JENNINGS
She’s baaaack! Janette Wadolowski returned from what was once thought to be a season-ending injury, and it came at a great time for the Lady Knights.
Some speculated that Wadolowski would return sometime in February, while others thought that she might not return at all after missing nine games to a hand injury that she suffered in the second game of the season against Hall at home. As Southington entered into the second half of the winter season, Wadolowski returned to the hard court.
“She talked to her doctor and her parents,” said Southington coach Mike Forgione. “They said that she could give it a go tonight. I did the best I could monitoring her minutes, but it’s hard in the heat of a game, especially in a close game.”
With her left hand bandaged up, Wadolowski returned to action on Tuesday night for a home contest against Tolland and said that her hand was feeling alright.
“It hurts a little bit, but obviously it’s going to be sore when you come back,” said Wadolowski. “I had a lot of padding, so it was kind of hard when I was dribbling or doing left-handed layups. Other than that, it wasn’t that bad.”
The Southington forward had only been to three practices before coming into Tuesday’s game and had to shake off the rust, but was still able to help the Lady Knight basketball team soar past the Eagles by three points, 51-48, finishing the game with nine points and 11 rebounds.
“I did what I could to help out,” said Wadolowski. “Obviously, I could have done better. But I think that we just played together today, and it was a good game.”
The result was a much-needed win. Southington trailed for three quarters with a three-point deficit late in the game. With a little over a minute remaining, Madison Hulten finally knotted the score at 47-47 after completing a three-point play on a layup and free throw.
“We were trying to zone them up in the first half, and (Sophia) Webster had three three’s,” said Forgione. “So we made that adjustment to go man-to-man in the second half. In the third quarter, we led off a few give-and-go’s where we lost sight of our man, but we did a better job of that in the fourth quarter.”
The Eagles jumped back on top by a point with a free throw and regained possession following a missed three-pointer by the Knights. However, a steal gave the Knights the ball back with 45.3 seconds showing on the clock.
Brianna Harris hit a deep, two-point jump shot with her foot on the three-point line to give the Knights a one-point lead, 49-48. Tolland’s shot attempt on their next possession was blocked by Hulten and sent out of bounds off an Eagle in Southington’s favor.
“We were looking to just attack the rim and set screens,” the coach said. “We were trying to kick it out to either Hartlee, Maggie, or Janette. But sometimes, you can draw things up and, and the ball got in Bri’s hands. Give her credit, she knocked down a couple big shots for us.”
A foul by Tolland sent Maggie Meehan to the line where she sank a pair of free throws to extend Southington’s lead. The Eagles aired a contested three-pointer as time expired.
“Those free throws by Maggie force them to take a three,” said Forgione. “So the percentages go way out where they can’t drive and try to tie the game to send it into overtime. It was huge. She came through for us when we needed her, but it was a balanced-scoring, team win tonight.”
Meehan (5 assists, 3 rebounds) marshaled the offense with 14 points and went 5-for-7 from the foul line. Brianna Harris (3 rebounds, 2 steals) backed Meehan with 11 points. Harris scored eight of her 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Hartlee Meier (6 rebounds, 4 assists) contributed with nine points. Madison Hulten grabbed seven rebounds.
Two days later, the Knights couldn’t keep the momentum going, suffering their seventh loss of the season, 61-43, at Glastonbury.
The Tomahawks led 33-23 at halftime, but pulled away in the second half largely by outscoring the Knights, 23-10 in the third quarter. The Knights held the Tomahawks to five points in the fourth quarter.
Wadolowski (11 rebounds) paced the Knights with 16 points and went 5-for-6 from the foul line. Meehan (3 assists) backed Wadolowski with nine points. Meier (10 rebounds, 3 assists) contributed with eight points on a pair of three-pointers.
As far as Wadolowski’s recovery goes, Forgione said that they are going to take it day by day.
“I pretty much let her dictate what she does,” said Forgione. “She knows her hand, what she can do, and her limitations. She’s going to pretty much sub herself in and out whenever she needs to.”
The Knights will be back on the court this week when they hit the road for games at Conard (14-1) and Simsbury (9-6). Conard is currently fourth in Class LL and second in the CCC.
With seven games remaining in the regular season, the Knights are a pair of wins shy of qualifying for the Class LL tournament. Southington is currently 6-7 overall.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.