BERLIN - The Berlin girls basketball team knew their matchup against RHAM Friday evening was not going to be easy.
The No. 5 team in the state according to MaxPreps, the Sachems boasted a 9-0 record coming into the meeting against a Redcoats team that lost four games already this season by four points or less.
And while the game started out close, a different RHAM team showed up to compete against Berlin from the second quarter on.
“We faced the [fifth] team in the state and I am so very proud of [our players],” Redcoats head coach Shelia King said after her team fell to RHAM 53-44. “They put on a great defensive display. We had nothing to lose and I knew we had to play hard.”
Lyzi Litwinko and Ashley Wenzel were Berlin’s leading scorers of the evening. The sophomore-freshman duo each scored 13 points on while fellow Redcoat Wyner Yovan scored eight.
The Sachems were the first ones on the board, but Yovan sparked her team, going on a 4-0 run herself.
With one minute left in the first quarter, Wenzel slapped the ball out of the hands of her opponent bringing the ball down court for a two-point basket, to increase Berlin’s lead 10-5.
It also helped that the Redcoats collected seven rebounds in the first quarter, eliminating RHAM’s ability for second-chance shots and put points on the board.
But that all changed once the clock turned over into the second quarter. The Sachems outscored Berlin 17-3 over the next eight minutes to gain a lead they would not lose.
Unfortunately for the Redcoats, the second quarter could have made all the difference. Berlin was only able to score three points when Wenzel was sent to the foul line twice, making 3-out-of-4 shots.
The 14 point deficit was too much for the Redcoats to handle. Berlin and RHAM were an even match for the remaining 16 minutes both scoring 31-31.
“We regrouped and made some offensive changes at halftime,” King said. “They executed them out on the floor and I think they played a great game.”
The Sachems started the third quarter with a 5-0 run, but the Redcoats answered right back with a 8-2 run of their own including a 3 by Wenzel.
“I feel like we played well overall,” Litwinko said. “Obviously, they’re the No. team in the state and we hung in there up in the first quarter, we just had to keep that momentum throughout the whole game.”
Wenzel added, “I think we started off strong but then fell in the second quarter, we just really had to keep that momentum going throughout the whole game because we had it.”
With the Redcoats trailing by 10 (33-23), the Sachems’ Katie Shae hit a 3-point shot as the clock wound down. Before the quarter would end, Litwinko scored two points. RHAM led 36-27 going into the final quarter.
Each team scored 17 points in the final stanza. The Redcoats collected three 3s, all by different players, Angela Perrelli, Carly Grega and Alana Garfolo.
“We’ve lost games by one-two-three points, tonight it was only nine,” King said. “It was our biggest lost of the season, we haven’t lost in double figures yet. So we just continue to take the positive out of each game, make the fixes that need to be made and I think at some point in time this very young team is going to click and we’re going to have success.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org