By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knights broke the regular season into quarters. Southington’s loss to Simsbury brought the beginning of their final quarter of the regular season.
From here on out, the Knights are looking to accomplish one goal: qualify for the conference tournament, but that will take a 5-0 run to close out the regular season that started with a pair of victories last week. The Knights have a pair of conference games remaining on the schedule with three regular season contests still left to play as they scramble to qualify for the CCC tournament.
“I don’t think anyone wants to draw us,” said Forgione. “If we have to go on the road, that’s fine. The kids were talking about how they’d love to play Simsbury again in the conference tournament if we could somehow get them. They’re confidence is there. We didn’t think we played our best game.”
Southington is peaking at the right time. A six-game winning streak came to an end, but the Knights have won eight of their last nine games. Coach Mike Forgione said that his young team is getting more comfortable with their roles and responsibilities with each minute they play on the court.
“It comes with experience,” said Forgione. “We’re obviously young when you start two freshmen and two sophomores around Janette (Wadolowski). But playing more with each other and having more experience in close games can only help you as the season progresses, and our early season schedule definitely helped us for the second half of the season.”
The Knights will be back on the hardwood this week with road contests at Suffield (7-8) on Tuesday, Feb. 6 and divisional Conard (10-7) on Friday, Feb. 9. Conard lost their last five games after starting the season at 7-1. Southington is currently 12-5.
Loss vs. Simsbury
JAN 29—Southington’s six-game winning streak was snapped on Monday with a 51-37 home loss to Simsbury. The Trojans are currently the top team in the CCC and one of three undefeated teams in Class LL.
The Knights held Simsbury’s offense to seven points in the first quarter, but they wouldn’t be able to contain them for long. Nor could they help themselves, registering just three points in the opening quarter. Southington trailed by eight points at the half with a 10-point scoring effort.
The Trojans made just three treys and 10 of 23 free throws in the game but managed to pull away with 33 points in the second half. Simsbury rallied for 22 points in the fourth quarter, alone. Southington rallied for 18 points down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough as Knight shooters finished 10 percent below their season average in field goal percentage.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well and didn’t knock down enough shots to get into an offensive rhythm and put a run together,” said Forgione. “Give Simsbury credit, they played a really solid man-to-man defense and made it difficult for us. Defensively, we went into a man-to-man and just got beat off the dribble too much.”
Janette Wadolowski (11 rebounds, 2 steals) paced the offense with 16 points and went 3-for-4 from the foul line. McKenna Finken (15 points) and Sophie Rosenberg (14 points) combined for 29 of Simsbury’s 51 points.
Win vs. Newington
JAN 31—A couple days later, the Knights bounced back with a 44-30 home victory over a scrappy Newington team.
As a result of sloppy play and multiple turnovers, the Knights trailed by six points at the half, but they settled down after the break, drawing fouls and beating the Indians with the fast-break. Southington pulled away with 30 points in the second half.
The Knights made just one trip to the foul line in the first half, but forced the Indians into early foul trouble with 14 trips in the second half. Southington went 10-for-16 from the charity stripe in the game.
“It was kind of a tale of two halves,” said Forgione. “Overall, I was really proud of our defensive effort across the board. Offensively, we picked it up in the second half and were being a little more aggressive. We were finishing our shots and got into a little bit of a flow, getting contributions from different people.”
Brianna Harris paced the offense with a season high of 18 points, going 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
“She played a solid game and was finishing her shots,” said Forgione. “She was more aggressive taking the ball to the basket. We talk a lot with her about trying to be a complete player. She’s a good spot shooter, and she can knock down some shots when she gets hot from the perimeter.”
Wadolowski backed Harris with 15 points.
Win at Avon
FEB. 2—The Knights capped off the week on Friday with their second-straight win, a 56-33 rout of the Falcons in Avon.
The Knights led by five points at the half, holding the Falcons to six points in the first quarter, and pulled away with 33 second-half points, including 19 points in the final eight minutes. Almost half of Avon’s points came at the foul line after the Falcons went 15-for-25 from the charity stripe.
“They’re definitely a much-improved team from last year,” said Forgione. “We had a solid second half, and I thought we did a nice job of running our break and getting transition points. Janette got hot in the second half, and when she does, that kind of brings a whole different element to everything.”
Wadolowski tied her season high of 32 points with a pair of trifectas, going 6-for-12 from the free throw line.
Kelley Marshall (7 points), Harris (6 points), and Madison Hulten (5 points) contributed as well.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2018/02/06/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-feb-9-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.