NEW BRITAIN >> E.O. Smith used tight defense in the second half to pull the upset over Farmington, 59-55 and advanced to the CCC finals.
The entire Panther lineup bought into the trap defense coach Mary Roickle put to use in the second half, causing turnovers and getting Farmington out of their element on their way to a Central Connecticut Conference semifinal victory.
They will play second seeded Weaver, a 65-51 winner over South Windsor, Wednesday at New Britain High School at 7 p.m.
“We ran our stuff and we ran it to perfection, defense dictates,” Roickle said.
The first half was tight, but E.O. Smith came out of the halftime break on a 9-4 run with McKenna Dale hitting a big three right in the middle of it. Two more hit from long range, Nicki Fuentes and Cathy Aforismo, as the Panthers made their move; leading by ten with one quarter to play.
Farmington didn’t let this one go. Bridgit Kelly hit a couple of key baskets in the fourth to keep things close. But the Indians just couldn’t get the little things to go their way.
“Those two things that we’ve done all year, make free throws and rebound and we just didn’t do it every time and that cost us huge,” Farmington coach Russ Crist said.
Sophie Borg, who led the scoring with 25, got the deficit to within five with 2:51 left in the game. But it was too little to late as Farmington dropped just their third game of the season.
“These young ladies have such spirit,” Roickle said. “The only people that I believe thought they could win were the people in that locker room and they came out and they showed it, they showed it for 32 minutes.”
The first half was quick.
E.O. Smith led 7-6 after 4:06 of play until three straight rained in from behind the arc. First it was Fuentes (10 points), then Cheray Saunders (13) and finally Morgan Lawlor (8). Borg hit the final three shots of the quarter for Farmington, who held a 16-11 lead.
We had a couple possessions we played such great defense,” Crist said. “Then they’d get the offensive board, hit a three and it just crushes us, they did it twice in a row.”
The Panthers went on a 9-2 run to start the second and would not trail for the rest of the game.
Roickle preached patience and it paid off.
“I’m a huge john wooden fan and he had a quote, ‘Be quick, don’t hurry,'” Roickle said. “If we can be patient on offense, make them play defense, we believe that we’re going to be successful.”
Weaver guards outrun South Windsor
Weaver’s guards proved to be too much for South Windsor to handle as the Beavers won, 65-51 and advanced to the CCC finals.
The Bobcats, down 54-36 entering the fourth quarter, went on an 8-2 run to start the fourth, but couldn’t get within single digits.
“We executed,” Weaver coach Wendell Williams said. “In the first half we were patient on offense and that’s what led to easy baskets. Defensively we settled down and controlled the boards.”
Shaquana Edwards, the games leading scorer with 22, closed out the game with a little shake-and-bake move to the basket with 2:46 left in the game.
“They hit shots, they’re a great team,” South Windsor coach Don Leclerc said. “They have great guards and they made plays when they needed to.”
Over a span of one minute and 38 seconds, four triples were hit, two by each team and when the madness ended, Weaver held a 35-24 lead.
Leading by ten at the half, Weaver outscored South Windsor by eight in the third quarter to take over.
Three-pointers kept the game close for South Windsor in the beginning. Lauren Biancardi hit one with a minute and a half left in the first and then Kristina Russo knocked one down from the corner with 6:44 on the clock in the second cutting the deficit to eight, but from there on out, the Beavers were in control.
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