SOUTHINGTON - There was no time for celebrating after the Southington girls basketball team beat E.O. Smith 61-49 in the first round of the CCC Tournament Thursday evening.
After the game, Blue Knights head coach Mike Forgione went right back to the white board, discussing and preparing for Southington’s next competition - RHAM.
“We went up there opening night [and lost],” Forgione said. “So we went up there for game one and now game 22.”
But before the Blue Knights could get to game 22, they first had to beat the aggressive Panthers.
Southington was able to stick to its game plan right from the get go.
“We really wanted to come out strong and continue our momentum throughout the game,” Blue Knights’ senior Janette Wadolowski said. “And that’s what we did. We weren’t afraid to attack the basket. We were taking shots and we were really trying to focus on our defense.”
Wadolowski had a game-high of 32 points, while teammate Ali Carr had a season-best 19.
Carr and Wadolowski have been complimenting each other all season, leading the team in points.
“If we have Janette, we have a chance,” Forgione said. “And if all other girls do their job and compliment her and do their roles - it has to be five-man game where everyone’s playing as a team. If they do their jobs and Janette gets hot, we’re a tough team.”
The Blue Knights were able to get the game started right away as Wadolowski and Madison Hulten combined to score 15 of Southington’s first-quarter points.
For the Panthers it was Taylor Verboven, as she added six for E.O. Smith.
Verboven was the Panthers’ leading threat coming into the game and by the time it was over, she racked up a total of 25 points.
“We actually were doing a one-three zone and we were trying to deny [Verboven], so we were really focusing on her as their best player,” Forgione said. “You have to give her credit. She scored a couple shots early, but she created her own shots and knocked down some big baskets. She was tough tonight.”
With Verboven held somewhat in check, the Blue Knights were able to have their way. An 8-2 run midway through the second quarter extended Southington’s lead to nine.
Brianna Harris sparked the third quarter with a 3-point shot, followed by an easy layup by Wadolowski as the Blue Knights controlled a quarter from start to finish.
With the game starting to get physical in the fourth, there was one thing going on in Carr’s mind - “fight through it.”
Southington did just that with five different players recording a basket. Wadolowski contributed nine points, while Carr scored seven with Harris, Kristen Longley and Kelley Marshall also scoring.
“It’s going to start to get physical and we knew that,” Carr said. “It’s going to take passion and heart now to just win it and to just keep going through it and that's what we had to do and that’s what we did.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org