BERLIN - The Berlin girls basketball team honored its four seniors before Friday nightâ€™s game against Platt, and two of those seniors made sure it was a Senior Night to remember.
Lyzi Litwinko dropped a game-high 16 points, while fellow senior Callie Gendron added nine in a 56-29 rout of the Panthers, giving the Redcoats their third straight win while keeping the team very much alive for the No. 1 overall seed in the upcoming Class MM state tournament.
â€śItâ€™s always special if you can get a win on Senior Night,â€ť head coach Sheila King said. â€śIâ€™m very happy that the seniors saw a lot of playing time, which is awesome.â€ť
Litwinko and Gendron, who were honored before the game along with Jenna Smalley and Mara Rodriguez, combined for 23 points in a dominant first half that saw Berlin leading by 21 in a game it controlled the whole way.
â€śIt was great,â€ť Gendron said. â€śIt felt really good. I had been waiting for this moment for awhile and it was just a really good experience.â€ť
The Redcoats (17-2) grabbed an early 5-1 lead behind a corner three from Carly Grega and a pair of free throws from Litwinko, but the Panthers (3-16) answered back with a three from Vianna Alcantara on her first shot off the bench to pull Platt within one. Grega connected again from downtown one minute later, this time from straight on, to extend the lead back to four and spark a 13-0 run that ran through the end of the first quarter.
During Berlinâ€™s dominant surge to end the period, Litwinko and Ashley Wenzel both sank 3-pointers giving the team four 3-pointers on its last six attempts, while the Redcoatsâ€™ defense forced four turnovers to take a 14-point lead into the second.
â€śThe shooters are coming along and they all played really well tonight,â€ť King said. â€śCallie surprised us with a couple threes, and Wynter Yovan had a few. It was good to see because we had been holding the ball a little and not letting it go.â€ť
Litwinko extended the lead to 19 midway through the second when she was fouled while banking in a driving layup, and completed the 3-point play on the ensuing free throw. Vianna Alcantara converted a 3-point play of her own on Plattâ€™s next possession, but Gendron immediately put the load back at 19 with a corner three on Berlinâ€™s next possession.
The Redcoatsâ€™ defense continued to dominate through the second quarter, forcing turnovers on three straight possessions while the offense piled on a 24-point lead behind four more points from Gendron.
â€śOnce we made one, we all just fired off and kept hitting,â€ť Gendron said. â€śIt was also a great environment, which helped.â€ť
Yovan put Berlin up by 22 early in the third with a corner three, then Grega followed with one from the opposite side of the floor on the next possession to make it a 25-point advantage. The 3-point barrage continued moments later when Litwinko hit from long range, giving the Redcoats their largest lead of the night, and one that never fell below 20 the rest of the way.
Berlin emptied its bench to start the fourth but put its three seniors back in midway through the quarter, prompting a spirited ovation from the crowd. Each were later taken back out one-by-one throughout the waning minutes of the fourth, again receiving loud applause on their way back to the bench.
With the win, Berlin kept pace with Nonnewuag for the top spot in Class MM, trailing by just a half game with one left to play, back at home on Monday night against Plainville. Nonnewaug has two games left on its schedule, concluding its season on Thursday night.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860)801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org
BERLIN 56, PLATT 29
Platt 4 10 9 6 - 29
Berlin 18 17 11 10 - 56
Platt: Jalexia West 2-4-8, Wallica Bailey 3-1-7, Antwanette Tann 1-3-5, Vianna Alcantara 3-1-9. Totals: 8-9-27.
Berlin: Lyzi Litwinko 6-3-16, Ashley Wenzel 1-3-6, Carly Grega 3-0-9, Wynter Yovan 2-0-6, Callie Gendron 3-2-9, Clare McGeever 2-1-5, Kailee DeMaio 1-0-2, Jenna Wenzel 1-0-2, Rylee Cop 0-1-1. Totals: 19-10-56.
Three-point goals: Litiwnko (B), Wenzel (B), Grega (B) 3, Yovan (B) 2, Gendron (B), Alcantara (P) 2.
Records: Berlin 17-2, Platt 3-16.