DANBURY — A new champion has been crowned for girls basketball in the CTC for the first time in tournament history.
Abbott Tech completed its undefeated season with a 50-39 win over Windham Tech to claim its first CTC title, and first conference title since 2002.
Abbott Tech is now the first girls basketball team to win a CTC championship not named Bullard-Havens.
The Wolverines came close to their first final appearance last season, but fell short on a semifinal buzzer-beater loss to Bullard-Havens.
“Even the ones that didn’t play in the game last year remember the heartbreak,” Abbott Tech coach Chris Pace said. “That was a big moment for us and I think it motivated them to step up and pass the torch. Deep down inside, I think they wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.”
As a second-year head coach for Abbott Tech, Pace has led the Wolverines to a 36-3 record including postseason matchups, a feat made even more impressive knowing one starter from last season’s team returned.
“We lost a lot last year and we knew that,” Pace said. “We had some question marks coming in but this was all them. (Tavahnnarie Sok) was the only one who had any quality experience from last year.”
Sok, one of just three upperclassmen on the team (all juniors) led the Wolverines in the final game, leading all scorers with 19 points.
“There was a lot of pressure, but at the same time there wasn’t,” Sok said. “We were undefeated and we work well together, so we were confident as a team. We didn’t worry about last year.”
Freshman Zelmira Widito was another key player for Abbott Tech, dropping 14 points in the championship effort while junior Kaylee Basurto scored seven.
It was a back-and-forth game until Abbott Tech separated itself at the end of the third quarter.
Trailing 33-29, the Wolverines went on a 12-0 run to finish the quarter and take a 41-33 lead they would never relinquish.
“They went down early, and we haven’t been down in a game,” Pace said. “That was our first test and they responded and that is what I love about it. They just worked every day and they never quit.”
Both Windham and Abbott Tech had never been to a CTC final previously, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a rematch in future years.
“I love all these girls, they overcame a lot,” Windham Tech coach Paul Vallone said. “Most of my starting lineup was sophomores, I only have two juniors on the team so we are looking to be right back here next year. They are the hardest working and most self-motivated group of any team I have coached.”
Windham Tech was led by sophomore Claudia Koiva who scored a team leading 13 points while sophomore Lizzee Jordan scored 10.
Abbott Tech also had no seniors on its roster and will return its entire roster next season.
“The hidden beauty about it is we didn’t even have a senior night this year,” Pace said. “I am so happy for the girls. For us to do this, to continue and build off last year, these girls really stepped up and I am so proud of them.”