WINDSOR LOCKS – They placed four players on the All-NCCC team and had won 18 straight league contests. But after three quarters of the NCCC Tournament championship game, Avon had just a two-point lead over a pesky Bolton High squad.
In the final quarter, Avon showed the mettle that allowed the Falcons to win the league championship. Avon held Bolton to just four points in the fourth quarter and ripped off 16 straight points to pull away from the Bulldogs, 42-26, to capture its first NCCC Tournament title since 2010 Thursday night.
Tournament MVP Abby Laszewski scored eight of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter to spark the Falcons. Guard Anna Schrecengost had six of her 12 points in the final eight minutes including her 1,000th career point that brought a huge roar from the Falcons bench.
Bolton’s zone defense and strong rebounding kept Avon at bay for three quarters. A three-point play from Bolton’s Crystal Zimmerman with 25 seconds left in the third quarter cut the Avon lead to two, 24-22.
Avon led by three, 26-23 with 6:06 remaining in the game after Marissa Guadauskas sank a free throw.
But Avon (21-2) went to the glass to seize control of the game. Junior Olivia Welter (11 points) went strong to the glass for a rebound and scored to extend the lead to five, 28-23. On Avon’s next possession, Laszewski grabbed a rebound and scored for a 30-23 advantage.
Welter sank a free throw to extend the lead to eight. She missed the second free throw and Laszewski grabbed the rebound. Between two defenders, she put up two shots and missed. On her third try, she scored to give the Falcons a 33-23 lead with 4:47 remaining.
“Abby took over in the fourth quarter,” Bolton coach Wayne Hapgood said. “We did a good job on controlling her (for three quarters). They were the No. 1 team in the league for a reason.”
“In the last four or five minutes, we showed some good patience and Abby got it going inside,” Avon coach Frank Waters said.
Leading by 10, Laszewski scored twice off of missed shots. With 2:22 remaining, Schrecengost stole the ball and laid it up to come with one point of 1,000 points. She sank two foul shots with 1:37 remaining to earn the career milestone.
“It was a good defensive game,” Schrecengost said. “It was tough to score. They kind of caught us off guard a bit. But we came together. We calmed down and got the job done.”
It was much nicer finish for Avon than last year’s NCCC Tournament final loss to Ellington with
Schrecengost, Laszewski and Welter all out with injuries.
“It’s awesome,” Laszewski said. “I’m so proud of our team. Everyone pulled together.”
Avon led from start to finish. Welter scored off the opening tip and the Falcons had two blocks and a steal on Bolton’s first five possessions. The other possessions ended with shots off the backboard.
“I was pleased with our defensive effort,” Waters said.
But Avon couldn’t build a lead. Avon scored the first eight points of the game and led 12-6 after one quarter. Bolton trailed 18-11 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Bolton (18-3) held Avon scoreless for nearly four minutes and cut the lead to two, 18-16. Laszewski scored in the low post to extend the lead to four but Bolton cut the lead to two by the end of the quarter.
Bolton sophomore Jessica Larsh was fearless in her drives into the lane. She scored a team-high seven points. The Bulldogs were slowed by poor foul shooting, missing nine of 16 shots.
Laszewski and Schrecengost were named to the All-Tournament team along with Larsh and Gauadauskas. For Avon, it was their 11th NCCC Tournament championship. Bolton was making its first-ever appearance in the final.
Avon 42, Bolton 26
At Windsor Locks
Bolton (23) Jessica Larsh 1 5-9 7, Rose Zimmerman 1-0-3, Casey Westerman 0-0-0, Molly Belekewicz 1 0-4 3, Marissa Guadauskas 1 1-2 4, Crystal Zimmerman 2 1-1 5, Sarah Marshall 2-0-4. Totals 8 7-16 26.
Avon (42) Anna Schrecengost 4 4-4 12, Abigal Laszewski 8 1-1 17, Oliva Welter 4 3-8 11, Alex Benedict 0 2-2 2, Kaleigh Sherman 0-0-0, Madison Mains 0-0-0, Lauren Miller 0-0-0, Michaela Marcus 0-0-0. Totals 16 10-15 42
Three-point goals: R. Zimmerman (B), Belekewicz (B)
CONSOLATION GAME: Ellington 49, Suffield 38
WINDSOR LOCKS – Three times in the fourth quarter, Suffield cut the lead to one but the Wildcats couldn’t over the hump as Ellington prevailed in the NCCC Tournament consolation game, 49-38.
After Suffield cut the lead to one with 4:36 remaining on a pair of foul shots from Adrianna Flagg, Ellington scored 10 unanswered points to take control of the game. Suffield didn’t score another point.
All-NCCC forward Karlee Alves led the Knights with a game-high 22 points including 10 points in the decisive fourth quarter. Cassandra Holmes added six.
For Suffield, All-NCCC forward Meredith Ouellette scored a team-high 16 points while Tashua Sotil added nine points.
Ellington 49, Suffield 38
At Windsor Locks
Suffield 6 8 14 10 – 38
Ellington 10 11 10 16 – 49
Suffield (38) Robin Nadeau 1-0-2, Katelyn Corr 1-1-3, Tashua Sotil 1-7-9, Katrina Rizzuto 0-0-0, Adrianna Flagg 2-2-6, Meredith Ouellette 4-8-16, Laura Somerville 0-0-0, Erin Sheridan 1-0-2. Totals 10-18-38
Ellington (49) Gwendolyn Paseka 0-2-2, Devonney Waters 2-0-4, Cassandra Holmes 3-0-6, Caitlyn Gresch 1-0-2, Kimberly McCoy 1-3-5, Karlee Alves 9-2-22, Shannon Maguire 1-2-4, Madison Lemire 2-0-4. Totals 18-7-49
Three-point goals: none
All-NCCC girls basketball team
Avon – Shannon Curry, Abby Laszewski, Anna Schrecengost, Olivia Welter; Bolton – Marissa Guduaskas; Canton – Maggie Treacy; East Windsor – Madison Carlous, Melissa Wabble; Ellington – Karlee Alves; Granby – Julia Mazzotta; Somers – Hailee Stetson; Suffield – Meredith Ouellette, Tashua Sotil; Windsor Locks – Dominique Boyd
Karlee Alves, Ellington; Meredith Ouellette, Suffield; Marissa Guadauskas, Bolton; Jessica Larsh, Bolton, Anna Schrecengost, Avon; Abby Laszewski, Avon (tournament MVP)