East Catholic fought back from an early deficit and battled No. 3 South Windsor all night. The Eagles came out on top, upsetting the previously unbeaten Bobcats 55-50 in Manchester.
Late in the fourth quarter, East Catholic (10-7) reeled off six straight points, including four from the line, to take a 51-47 lead and didn’t give it up.
Christina Rozie got South Windsor (16-1) back within two on an acrobatic layup with 1:24 on the clock, but failed to get anything else to fall, dropping their first contest of the season.
“We didn’t change anything and I took the focus off of [South Windsor] and just told them to do what works for us and which is our defense,” East Catholic coach Katie DeCosta said.
After falling behind 7-0 in the early going, DeCosta called a timeout to settle her players down and they responded.
With 3:24 left in the second quarter, Jillian Bray gave East Catholic its first lead of the game. Senior Kristina Russo of South Windsor responded with a 3, but East Catholic went on an 8-2 run to finish out the first half and led 33-29 at the break.
The Bobcats came out of the half faster and more physical.
They went on an 8-2 run of their own capped by two free throws from senior Christina Rozie.
“We knew they’d get the shots off. All I said is we get a hand in to make the shots a little more difficult and they executed that,” said DeCosta, whose team held South Windsor to under 28 percent shooting on the night.
“[We] just couldn’t get anything to drop and unfortunately we couldn’t get any momentum going our way,” South Windsor coach Don Leclerc said.
The Eagles knew they had to contain the Bobcats’ leading scorer, Olivia Bolden. The senior forward still finished with 21 points, including 6 of 8 from the line.
“They played hard, you can’t take that away from them, they played very well defensively,” Leclerc said. “We missed easy shots and unfortunately we let one slip away.”
Dominique Woods led the Eagles down the stretch, scoring six of her 12 points in the final frame, including two free throws in the two minutes essentially sealing the victory.
“[We’ll] enjoy it until 11:59 tonight, tomorrow we have to go back to work,” DeCosta said.