By BRIAN JENNINGS
Following Brianna Harris’ three-pointer that tied the game, the Warriors quickly rushed the ball up the court past Southington’s full-court press. Allison Carr and Madison Hulten worked together to trap the ball handler on the baseline and force a turnover. As soon as Hulten grabbed the loose ball, Carr took off running the other way.
Hulten hit Harris in transition near midcourt. Harris then found Carr, who dribbled just outside the right post and hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer on a contested runner off the backboard. The basket was Carr’s first two-pointer as a varsity player.
“When Alli Carr was coming down our sidelines, my first thought was to see where Janette (Wadolowski) was,” said Southington coach Mike Forgione. “When Janette was on the other side, Alli dribbled right by me with about two seconds to go, and I told her to take it to the rim.”
Carr’s game-winner helped Southington edge divisional Hall by two, 43-41, at home on Thursday, but it was also a reminder that this was a tight-knit group. Forgione wasn’t kidding when he stated that these girls loved being around one another coming into the season. It wasn’t hard to tell by the way Carr was mobbed by her teammates following the victory.
There’s no doubt the Knights got to enjoy their first win of the season together as a team, but there’s a lot that they still have to improve on going forward. Forgione said that any game they win this season will be a tight game and finding a way to persevere through mental toughness will be critical in pulling out wins. But through the reality of a tough four-game stretch to open the season, there’s also a lot of potential and upside with this team underneath it all.
“They understand their challenge and are willing to take on that challenge, but everyone on this varsity team is going to be accountable,” said Forgione. “We’re going to have to take our lumps, but inexperience is not going to be an excuse for why we make mistakes. They’re going to gain some more experience and confidence every game.”
With the Warriors up by a point after a pass slipped off the fingertips of a Knight out of bounds with just under a minute to go in the contest, a jump ball on Hall’s ensuing inbounds pass pointed possession in Southington’s direction. However, a travel would give the ball right back to the Warriors. A pair of free throws put the Warriors up by three with 38.5 seconds to go, but a Harris three from the corner knotted the score.
“Even though we played a zone 95 percent of the game, I wanted to go man to try to get a turnover,” said Southington. Sometimes in a tight game like that, especially with a young team, they almost freeze if you stay in a zone. Once we tied it, we stayed man-to-man full court because it’s forcing them to be active and stay on their girl.”
Forgione had called a timeout after Hall’s foul shots and originally drew up a play to give Janette Wadolowski an open look at a three-pointer. But Wadolowski wasn’t open on the play.
Forgione designed a play for Wadolowski to normally come around from one wing to the opposite corner, which they had run a few times earlier in the game. But he made an adjustment to have Wadowski come around and go back to the original corner she came from for a three-pointer instead of going to the opposite corner after the posts sealed the baseline.
“It got screwed up, and they did a nice job defending it,” said Forgione. “So, then we worked the ball into the middle to hit the other side of the floor, and Bri hit the big shot in the corner.”
Wadolowski paced the offense with 21 points and attacked the glass with 12 rebounds. Harris contributed with 13 points, going 4-for-4 from the charity stripe with a triad of triples.
The Warriors were missing one of their star players, Amber Raisner, due to an injury.
The victory came on the heels of a 55-40 loss at RHAM on Monday.
The Knights will be back on the hardwood this week when they host Glastonbury (0-2) on Monday, Dec. 18 and then hit the road for Farmington (2-0) on Thursday, Dec. 21. Southington is currently 1-1.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/12/19/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-dec-22-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.