PLAINVILLE - It was the Olivia Robles show in Monday nightâ€™s Class M state tournament semifinals, and the performance by the Sheehan senior ended the season for the Berlin girls basketball team.
The Redcoats struggled to stop Robles all night, as the Titans forward dropped 36 points to lead No. 16 Sheehan to a 62-59 win over No. 8 Berlin at Plainville High School.
â€śWe had the heart and we had the intensity, but [Robles] made it rough.â€ť Litwinko said after scoring a team-high 24 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. â€śObviously we donâ€™t have a lot of bigs, so that doesnâ€™t help at all. She made it difficult. Itâ€™s tough when you donâ€™t have the size to match up.â€ť
The Redcoats (20-6) trailed by two with less than 20 seconds left, but Robles grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw to seal the upset victory.
â€śWhat an unbelievable player,â€ť Berlin head coach Sheila King said of Robles. â€śShe did a fantastic job tonight.â€ť
Roblesâ€™ 36 points were more than the rest of the Titans combined (26), leading Sheehan (18-6) to its first state tournament final appearance since 2000, where it will meet No. 2 Cromwell.
Berlin struggled to stop Robles all night, but still found a way to create offense and seize an 11-point lead in the second quarter after closing the first period on an 8-0 run. But Robles and fellow Sheehan forward Caitlyn Hunt began to wear down the Redcoatsâ€™ defense, forcing Litwinko and sophomore Carly Grega into foul trouble.
â€śI feel like having to switch matchups was definitely a downfall,â€ť Litwinko said of the teamâ€™s foul trouble at the end of the second half, when Berlin was trying to put the game out of reach. â€śWe practiced me being on Robles and Wynter [Yovan] being on Hunt, but we had to switch that up.â€ť
Leading by nine midway through the second quarter, Ashley Wenzel picked off an inbounds pass from midcourt and put home a layup to increase the Redcoatâ€™ lead to double-digits. Sheehan fought back behind Robles, who recorded four straight points to pull the Titans back within seven. A 3 by Hayleigh Lagase cut the lead to four and highlighted a 9-0 Sheehan run.
The Redcoats turned it over on three straight possessions during the Titansâ€™ run.
Berlin looked to turn it around in the fourth quarter behind its senior Angela Perrelli, who knocked down a pair of free throws, stole the ensuing inbounds pass and knocked down another foul shot to cut a six-point deficit in half.
Litwinko followed with a floater to cut the lead down to one with four minutes left and buried another two minutes later to help the Redcoats regain the lead for an instant, before Robles and Sheehan took it right back, and held it the rest of the way.
Berlin had a chance to tie the game with 30 seconds remaining, but Litwinko misfired on a layup attempt and immediately fouled Robles, forcing the Redcoatsâ€™ leading scorer out of the game.
Sheehan missed a free throw to seemingly give Berlin one more shot, but Robles was there to grab the offensive board and draw another foul, as the Redcoats couldnâ€™t find a way to stop Sheehanâ€™s 1,000-point scorer from the opening whistle to the final crucial play of the game.
â€śWe knew we were going to struggle with their size, but these girls did an outstanding job,â€ť King said. â€śIâ€™m so proud of them.â€ť
NO. 13 SHEEHAN 62, NO. 8 BERLIN 59
At Plainville, Class M semifinals
Sheehan 17 16 15 14 - 62
Berlin 19 17 10 13 - 59
Sheehan: Caitlyn Velez 2-4-8, Olivia Robles 14-7-36, Madison Larkin 1-0-2, Hayleigh Lagase 2-0-6, Caitlyn Hunt 4-2-10. Totals: 23-13-62.
Berlin: Lyzi Litwinko 8-8-24, Ashley Wenzel 5-4-14, Angela Perrelli 6-4-15, Carly Grega 3-0-6, Wynter Yovan 0-0-0, Callie Gendron 0-0-0, Arianna Hender 0-0-0. Totals: 22-16-59.
Three-point goals: Angela Perrelli (B) 3, Hayleigh Lagase (S) 2, Olivia Robles (S).
Records: Berlin 20-6, Sheehan 18-6.