NEWINGTON - Ashanti Frazier made history in the second quarter of the Newington girls basketball team’s game against East Catholic, scoring her 1,000th career point on a tough layup to put her in school history forever.
But there was still a game to win.
“I never went into this game thinking I need to score my 1,000th point,” Frazier said. “I went in thinking we need to take down a No. 1 team and show who we are.”
Immediately shifting focus back to the game, Frazier scored a game-high 24 points and led a fourth-quarter comeback at the expense of the previously unbeaten Eagles, draining the game-tying three midway through the final period to send the Indians on their way to a 50-49 win Thursday night, the team’s fifth in a row. Both teams are now 9-1.
“We just continued to hang tough and persevere,” head coach Marc Tancredi said. “We haven’t been in many situations like that through the season, but the girls executed our game plan and I’m so proud of them.”
Newington grabbed a late lead on a three by Karissa Zocco after Frazier tied it, and East Catholic had a chance to tie it themselves in the closing seconds of play, but a short-range jumper rimmed in and out.
After a pair of free throws by Sabrina Soler stretched the lead to four with four seconds left, the Eagles’ Cami Pasqualoni banked in a halfcourt heave, but it was only enough to finish one point short.
“It was tough,” Tancredi said of the battle. “All of their players can score, and everyone had to do their job on the defensive end. East Catholic is a great offensive team.”
East Catholic showed its offensive might when it opened the second quarter on an 8-1 run, getting 3-pointers from Pasqualoni and Emily Jeamel and a pair of free throws from Lilly Ferguson to take the lead at 16-14.
Trailing 16-15 with just over three minutes left in the second, Frazier grabbed a defensive rebound and drove the length of the floor, weaving through traffic inside before rimming home a layup for career points No. 1,000 and 1,001. After Frazier hustled back on defense and forced a jump ball, Tancredi called timeout so the packed crowd could recognize its star senior, who was mobbed by teammates while family members proudly sported a banner congratulating Frazier for the historic accomplishment.
Frazier’s bucket gave Newington the lead, but the Eagles ended the half on a run, closing the second quarter with a contested straightaway three from Pasqualoni at the buzzer, her fourth triple of the night, to put East Catholic up by four.
Trailing by eight in the third after a corner three from Alexis Jablonecki, Frazier came alive for five straight points, drilling a three before scooping up a loose ball and scoring in transition to get the Indians within three heading into the final minute of the third. After an Eagles free throw from Lilly Ferguson with less than 10 seconds left, Frazier quickly pushed her way into the paint and put in a fadeaway jumper as the buzzer sounded to send Newington to the fourth quarter down two.
Down three with 5:17 to go, Frazier swished a corner three to tie the game at 39, and as she celebrated the equalizer, there was no question what was her most meaningful shot of the evening.
“The three definitely felt better,” Frazier said when comparing it to her 1,000th point. “It helped the team, and any point I make I have them behind me.”
After pair of free throws from the Eagles, Zocco connected from downtown to give the Indians a one-point lead with less than four minutes left. Zocco nearly hit another on Newington’s next possession before the high-arching three rimmed out, but she was fouled on the attempt and knocked down all three free throws to extend the lead to four.
Still leading by four with 15 seconds left, Edisha Galan nailed a deep three to cut Newington’s lead to one, and after Zocco hit one of two free throws, a potential game-tying shot by Pasqualoni rimmed out with two seconds left, sealing the win for the Indians and making sure it was a happy night of history for Frazier.
“It’s a great night,” Tancredi said. “I’m extremely proud of Ashanti and I’m blessed to coach her. And I’m happy we got the win.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com
NEWINGTON 50, EAST CATHOLIC 49
East Catholic 9 14 13 13 - 49
Newington 13 6 15 16 - 50
East Catholic: Edisha Galan 2-0-5, Lilly Ferguson 6-5-16, Lauren Trymbulak 0-2-2, Emily Jeamel 2-2-7, Cami Pasqualoni 5-1-16, Alexis Jablonecki 0-1-3. Totals: 16-10-49.
Newington: Alexie Armour 2-0-4, Ashanti Frazier 9-3-24, Sabrina Soler 1-3-5, Karissa Zocco 3-4-13, Marliese Zocco 1-0-3, Kayleigh Sanchez 0-1-1. Totals: 16-11-50.
Records: Newington 9-1, East Catholic 9-1.