UNCASVILLE >> Capital Prep has wanted tough competition all season. The Trailblazers even went out of state.
Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena in the Class L final, Weaver gave Capital Prep its best game of the season, but the Trailblazers were up to the challenge.
After trailing by double-digits in the first half, top-seeded Capital Prep stormed back to down the third-seeded Beavers 69-53 to capture its second state title in school history and second straight.
“We’re number one for a reason,” said Trailblazers senior Taylor Williams. “It’s not because we play out of state teams and it’s not because we’re undefeated. It’s because of the dedication we put into it. We didn’t have a point to prove.”
And finishing the season undefeated at 27-0 and with a Class L title should silence the doubters that said the Trailblazers, who have been No. 1 in the GametimeCT top 10 poll since last season’s final, can’t beat top teams in Connecticut.
“This feels good,” said Capital Prep sophomore Desiree Elmore. “Hopefully all of the talk on social media stops. They all know who the best team is.”
Weaver finished the season 24-3. Beavers’ coach Wendell Williams said his team did all it could to win. However, he said the tight way the game was called limited his team’s aggression defensively. There were a total of 34 fouls called, 18 on Weaver, 16 on Capital Prep.
“I think it got in our heads that we can’t be overly physical and play our type of pressure,” he said. “We had to back off a little bit.”
Weaver was led by DeJane “Snoop” James with 22 points and Shaquana Edwards with 11 points. Both Edwards and James were Trailblazers last season before transferring to Weaver.
“They could’ve went anywhere they wanted,” Wendell said. “They chose their home school and I’ve got nothing but love for them. I know they took (this loss) hard.”
Capital Prep was led by Elmore with 24 points and 17 rebounds, Kiah Gillespie had 17 points and 15 rebounds, Angelique Rodriguez had 12 points and made two 3-pointers and Williams added 10 points and 11 boards.
The Trailblazers trailed early in the first half. Weaver used an aggressive style of defense to open up a 10-point lead at 29-19 in the second quarter. Capital Prep charged back and trailed by only three at the half, but the Trailblazers knew they had to make changes.
“Our coach (Tammy Millsaps) told us we need to come out and be unselfish,” Gillespie said. “She was right. The big lights, the cameras all over the place. We were playing like we had a point to prove.”
However, in the second half, an unsung hero stepped up. Rodriguez, who is only a freshman, scored seven points in the third and made the go-ahead layup to give Capital Prep the lead. The Trailblazers never trailed again.
“Once we settled down and played our game it was a no-brainer,” Millsaps said. “We were more talented than them, we were the better team and we won the game.”