By BRIAN JENNINGS
Janette Wadolowski got off to a bit of a rocky start and missed her first few jump shots. Missed jump shots then turned into missed layups. The pressure seemed to be mounting as each minute went by, and the thought of reaching a milestone began to diminish after she closed the first half with eight points.
“I feel like it wasn’t as much of a slow start. It was just more of the fact of finishing,” said Wadolowski. “I told all the girls not to worry about the points. I didn’t really care. All I cared about was winning the game. If I wasn’t open, I didn’t want them to pass me the ball. We were still out there to play basketball because it’s not just about me.”
She didn’t let a slow first half hold her back from coming out and firing in the second half though. Southington held a 16-point advantage late in the fourth quarter, and Wadolowski needed only three points to make school history. Southington coach Mike Forgione called a timeout and drew up a play to get her the ball.
Wadolowski was in an unusual position in the play. Her assistant coach told her that she might as well take it and see if she could hit the three.
On her way to the court, Wadolowski took the ball out and told the usual in-bounder to play her position. She came off a screen and received a pass beyond the arc, hitting a three-pointer with 5:19 remaining in regulation.
“We kind of just did it on our own, and it worked,” said Wadolowski. “I let it fly, and it just went in. I actually kind of felt it. As I let it go, I said, ‘No way.’”
Play was immediately stopped for the big announcement, and Wadolowski’s teammates ran off the bench to hug and congratulate her on the court. Wadolowski looked as if she had scored just another basket in the game and was by no means caught up in the moment of scoring her 1,000th career point as a Lady Knight.
“The points never really mattered. She wasn’t looking to score,” said Forgione. “She was looking to play great team basketball by finding the open player, running the floor, and playing defense. Obviously, with her natural and God-given ability, the points came.”
Wadolowski became the sixth all-time leading scorer in Southington girls basketball history. But what’s even more impressive is the fact that she did it in less than three full years after missing all of her freshman year and nine games of her junior year to injuries. She finished with 446 points in her sophomore year, 239 points in her junior year, and currently has 320 points to date this season.
“Here’s a girl that would have had 1,800 points in her career,” said Forgione. “Think about what she’s done in two seasons. She scored over 1,000 points really in two seasons right now.”
The Lady Knights in front of Wadolowski on the 1,000-point scorers list include Val DePaolo (1,333), Ashley Borofsky (1,203), Jen Gombotz (1,135), Kelly Hart (1,132), and Maggie Meehan (1,118). Wadolowski came into Friday night’s game 19 points shy of 1,000 career points. Like Wadolowski, DePaolo and Hart did it in three years of varsity basketball.
“It kind of sucks because I wish I could have gotten more points,” said Wadolowski. “I had a feeling that I would have been able to break 1,333 points if I played more in my years. I was a little down after my sophomore year because I knew that it was going to be really hard to reach 1,000 points, but I’m really excited that it happened.”
Wadolowski (8 rebounds, 3 assists) paced the offense with 24 points en route to the Knights earning their sixth-straight win on Friday, Jan. 26 with a 54-33 rout of South Windsor at home. The Knights wore their pink uniforms in honor of legendary women’s college basketball coach, Kay Yow, in their annual “Pink Zone” game.
The Bobcats scored the first six points of the game, but then the Knights went on a 15-0 run to hold an 11-point lead at the half. Allison Carr (4 assists, 2 steals) backed Wadolowski with 13 points and grabbed a team high of 10 rebounds. The Bobcats committed 21 turnovers in the game.
They struggled from the foul line, going 13-for-21 as a team, and mustered just a pair of three-pointers, but the Knights still managed to begin the week with a 49-44 victory at Berlin on Monday.
The Knights held the Redcoats to just four points in the first quarter, heading into halftime with a five-point lead. The Knights kept their foot on the gas with 27 points in the second half and didn’t let up, posting 16 in the fourth. The Redcoats missed just four free throws in the game, going 14-for-18 from the line, but only made a pair of threes as well.
Wadolowski (2 steals) paced the offense with 23 points and attacked the glass with 10 rebounds, going 6-for-11 from the charity stripe. Allison Carr (2 assists) backed Wadolowski with nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds as well. Madison Hulten (8 rebounds, 2 blocks) contributed with seven points.
Looking forward to the six games remaining on their regular season schedule, if the Knights win out, they will be assured a spot in the CCC Tournament. Since opening the season with three losses in their first four games, the Knights have won nine of their last 10 games.
During that 10-game stretch, Forgione has been preaching two jobs to his players every day: work like crazy during practice and the games, and have fun with your teammates on and off the court. Leave it up to Forgione to handle everything else.
“They’re doing both of those,” said Forgione. “They come to practice every day wanting to get better and learn. It’s a fun team, and they love being around each other.”
Other players around Wadolowski are also starting to find their niche and rolls on the team, and Forgione said that they’re trying to gain more confidence.
“If we can get Janette the ball in certain spots, it opens things up for everyone else,” said Forgione. “The fours and fives have to roll if the defense collapses on them. The guards have to find the wings because Janette can drive and kick to them. The one thing you can’t do is stand around and watch. You have to move and run our offense.”
The Knights will be back on the hardwood this week with contests against Simsbury (15-0), Newington (6-7), and Avon (6-8). Simsbury is currently the top team in the CCC and is tied as the top team in Class LL. Southington is currently 10-4.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2018/01/29/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-feb-2-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.