NEWINGTON - The first round of the CCC girls basketball tournament is underway and top-seeded Newington is still undefeated after a 55-35 win over eighth-seeded Bristol Eastern on Monday night.
Newington’s defense held Lancers’ junior guard Ciara Collins to 15 points for the contest and played stifling defense across all 32 minutes to disrupt the fast-past Eastern offense while Lilly Ferguson led all scorers with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and six steals. Senior Karissa Zocco added 13 points for Newington, which nearly led by 20 after just one quarter.
Newington will host fourth-seeded Southington on Wednesday.
“The game plan was to take away Collins because she is a phenomenal scorer. Twenty-five [points] a game in the CCC,” Newington head coach Marc Tancredi said. “We just didn’t want her to catch [fire] at all. We did a really good job, it was a team effort. I was really proud of the way we executed, we practiced it and we did exactly what we wanted.”
Newington hit the ground running to start the contest and led 11-2 in less than two minutes and 19-4 towards the end of the quarter. Zooco scored 11 of her 13 points for the game in the opening period, including three 3-pointers.
“I was really confident with my shot today,” Zocco said. “I knew that if we wanted to win, I needed to execute on my shots today. I struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season, but I got it going and my teammates have the confidence in me to be able to knock down those shots.”
The Lancers failed to muster much production on offense until the end of the frame with a short 6-2 run with five points from Collins. Newington’s defense overwhelmed Eastern for the entire contest, forcing difficult shots and turnovers on nearly every possession and the Lancers failed to adjust.
“They were just more aggressive than us and we didn’t step it up and play hard defense,” Bristol Eastern coach Tony Floyd said. “They just out-hustled us and worked harder than us and they were able to get a little run on us, jumped up on us and we were never able to establish ourselves. We got it down to 10 and 12, but we never put the same intensity level that they gave us.”
Newington displayed dominance on the glass throughout the game as well, often holding Eastern’s offense to one shot while creating extra scoring opportunities for itself. Newington finished with 35 rebounds as a team, 14 of which were offensive, and senior Madison Romanello grabbed nine boards, including five on the offensive end.
Ferguson finished with nine in the first half, taking a methodical approach as the Newington offense was able to answer Eastern no matter who was shooting. She notched eight points after halftime including the first two buckets of the third quarter off of steals that she turned into easy layups.
Collins did most of her scoring in the first half, scoring 12 before the intermission including two triples, the second of which pushed her over the 1,000-point mark for her high school career. Keeping her quiet on offense after halftime helped Newington keep the Lancers from making a run as they scored just six points in the third quarter and were held scoreless for much of the fourth quarter.
“They played really great defense, they played really good man-to-man,” Collins said. “We haven’t really seen a team come out and play that tenacious and all over us. They were very physical, which we were not expecting at all. We just weren’t expecting that physicality that they had so it was difficult adjusting to that, but we tried our best.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWINGTON 55, BRISTOL EASTERN 35
At Newington, Bracket No. 1 CCC Tournament First Round
Bristol Eastern 10 9 6 10 - 35
Newington 21 12 14 8 - 55
BRISTOL EASTERN: Ciara Collins 5-3-15, Cali Doyon 0-2-2, Sage Scarritt 2-2-6, Taigan Parent 2-0-4, Emma Stavens 0-1-1, Audrey Tice 1-0-2, Janessa Gonzalez 1-1-3, Vanessa Drury 1-0-2. Totals 12-9-35.
NEWINGTON: Lilly Ferguson 8-2-19, Karissa Zocco 5-0-13, Alexie Armour 2-1-5, Kayleigh Sanchez 0-1-1, Madison Romanello 3-1-7, Marliese Zocco 3-0-8, Maya Johnson 1-0-2. Totals 22-5-55.
Three-point goals: K. Zocco (N) 3, M. Zocco (N) 2, Collins (BE) 2.
Records: Bristol Eastern 10-3, Newington 13-0.