GROTON — It was a familiar stage that garnered familiar results for a Bullard Havens Tech girls’ basketball team which claimed its third consecutive CTC Championship Thursday night.
The No. 4 seeded Bullard Havens rode the momentum of its thrilling semifinal upset over No. 1 Abbott Tech to take out No. 3 Prince Tech, 37-29.
Bullard Havens was led by seniors Ariana Garcia (13 points) and Bella Simon (12), accounting for the majority of their team’s points.
“It is very special because it’s the last ride,” Garcia said. “You never get high school again so it was a good experience. Everybody was sharing the ball with each other, nobody was being stingy. All of us seniors, we like to share the ball, have a good time and make connections on and off the court to become one big family.”
Both Garcia and Simon were part of the previous two CTC championship rosters and have put a stamp on the final season of their high school careers with a third.
“It feels good because I know I’m going out with a bang,” Simon said. “It’s my last year, senior year, and I had to mark my territory and that’s what we did.”
Bullard Havens lead at the end of every quarter, but a groggy start kept the Tigers from creating separation until the second half.
Prince Tech looked as if it were going to take a lead into the locker room, but Bullard Havens scored the final five points for a 17-14 halftime lead and momentum.
“They pulled it together after that first half,” Bullard Havens coach Dirk Rozarie said. “We weren’t really playing good defense and our defense is usually what leads to our offense so we just said let’s settle down and wake up. We were kind of sleep walking in the first half.”
Bullard Havens extended the closing 5-0 run into a 17-0 run between the second and third quarters to take a 29-14 lead with 3:28 remaining in the third.
“I guess with the long bus ride and all of the nerves with the championship game, the first half wasn’t our best,” Garcia said. “Once we went into the locker room and we talked, and we learned from our mistakes and saw what we had to fix, it got good. We were able to pass it, make the baskets, get the foul calls, make our foul shots and make every point count.”
The run created a deficit that proved to be too much for Prince Tech to overcome as the Tigers cruised through the fourth quarter.
“I would have been upset and heartbroken if it didn’t come back with us.” Rozarie said. “I expect to have that trophy year round. It is emotional for the seniors, the finality of it usually doesn’t hit them until this weekend. We will practice on Saturday and I expect it will hit them then.”
Bullard Havens will compete next week in the CIAC Class MM Tournament as the No. 8 seed taking on No. 25 Brookfield on Monday.
“These girls are like my whole family,” Simon said. “It’s more than just basketball. Everyone thinks we just show up but its more than basketball, it goes to a deeper level because we are out sisters’ keepers and that’s the love we have for basketball and for each other.”