By BRIAN JENNINGS
After coming home from two tough losses on road, The Southington Lady Knights (13-6) basketball team were looking to get back on the horse and fight for better seeding in the CCC tournament on Wednesday night, Feb. 11 against the Hall Warriors (6-13).
“We talked on Friday after the two games last week about our next mini goal,” said Southington coach Mike Forgione. “We have three regular season games left, two at home and one on the road against a good Simsbury team. And I said we have to try to win all three. That was our next goal. Let’s try to go 3-0.”
The Lady Knights wasted no time. The Southington girls held the lead throughout the entire game and never gave it up, defeating the Warriors, 44-40.
“We were able to do enough and do the little things to get the win. We protected the basketball, got fouled, and made our foul shots in the fourth quarter,” said Forgione. “We didn’t shoot that well in the first half. We were getting some decent looks and weren’t knocking down the shots. The girls were able to keep their focus and keep playing good, aggressive defense.”
Sarah Minkiewicz made key shots in the second half, Natalie Wadolowski sunk important free throws, and Kaitlin Paterson came up big with two three-pointers in the fourth quarter, part of her five in the game.
Paterson (6-14) led the Lady Knights with 19 points. Minkiewicz (2-4) followed with eight and Wadolowski (1-7) with six. Amber Raisner led the Warriors with 16 points.
Wadolowski went 4-4 from the foul line, helping the Lady Knights to go 7-10 in the fourth quarter (9-14 in the game).
“It comes down to making your foul shots,” said Forgione. “When you have a lead, you have to make your foul shots. If you look at high school basketball especially, I think you would be amazed at how many teams lose close games because they can’t knock down foul shots.”
Hoping to escape the black cloud of injuries that seemed to linger for most of the season, the Lady Knights sustained a few more injuries during the game. With a couple twisted ankles and a bent-back thumb, things just haven’t gotten any easier for this wounded, battle-tested group.
“When you’re going through some of the stuff that we’ve been going through, sometimes things get away from you a little bit and you have to regroup,” said Forgione. “Pro athletes talk about hitting the wall, whether it’s in basketball or another sport. We hit the wall, not only because of our conference schedule, but emotionally we were dealing with a lot. We were trying to patch up the different holes that were created.”
The Lady Knights tried to carry on their winning ways on the road against the Simsbury Trojans (15-5) on Thursday night, Feb. 12. but the girls suffered their sixth loss of the season, falling to the Trojans, 43-35.
Paterson (6-14) led the Lady Knights with 16 points. Kayla Kavanagh (4-7) followed with 11. Katie Martensen led the Trojans with 14 points.
“That was one game we thought we let slip away from us,” said Forgione. “We were within that five-point range all game. We were in the area where we could never really take control, but we never let Simsbury get to far ahead either.”
We missed too many foul shots and layups,” the coach said. “That’s what it came down to. But they played hard though.”
The Lady Knights were 7-15 from the charity stripe and shot just 8-for-32 (25 percent) inside the arc.
With the victory, the girls have secured a spot in the CCC tournament. Southington will wrapped up the season with a game against New Britain, and the Knights will open the conference tournament, on the road, on Thursday.
Conference tournament match-ups were posted after this story went to press. They can be found on-line at www.centralconnecticutconference.org.