MIDDLETOWN >> Middletown senior Brielle Wilborn experienced both joy and heartbreak on Saturday afternoon. And Blue Dragons coach Rob Smernoff is hoping the tears can subside quickly enough and not outweigh Wilborn’s historical performance.
Wilborn scored her 1000th career point during an emotional Central Connecticut Conference see-saw battle against Glastonbury at LaBella-Sullivan Gymnasium. Wilborn reached the scoring milestone midway through the third quarter. But the Hartford-bound center fouled out in the fourth quarter and watched Middletown suffer its first loss of the season.
“Even though we’re disappointed, I hope Brielle’s accomplishment doesn’t get overshadowed,” Middletown coach Rob Smernoff said. “It’s incredible to get 1000 points. Her skill development has been off the charts the last four years. She’s worked so hard and is deserving of that honor.”
Seniors Christina Semevolos and Madison Seymour made huge shots down the stretch to help the Tomahwaks rally from a nine-point deficit and upend the ninth-ranked Blue Dragons, 75-70.
Wilborn scored her 1000th point on a free throw, giving Middletown a 47-44 lead with 3:42 left in the third quarter. The game stopped and Wilborn celebrated with hugs from her teammates and parents. Just over a minute later, Wilborn picked up her fourth foul.
The Blue Dragons, however, extended their lead in Wilborn’s absence, getting a quick low post hoop from sophomore Mackenzie Dunn, and free throws from Dominque Highsmith and Silvana Barcomb as part of a 13-2 run that gave the Blue Dragons a 55-46 lead.
Middletown (10-1) had too many turnovers against Glastonbury’s full-court pressure, which paid dividends for the Tomahawks again over the final eight minutes. By the time Wilborn returned, the Blue Dragons lead was only 58-56.
Tomahawks senior Hayley Newhouse then drained a 3-pointer to give Glastonbury a one point lead.
Seconds later, Wilborn fouled out by committing an intentional foul. Aleigha Partee made both free throws and Caroline Bogue’s driving layup lifted Glastonbury to a 63-58 cushion.
“It was an unfortunate play because it looked like there was action on both ends, but again, Wilborn can’t commit that (last) foul,” Smernoff said.
Highsmith’s sensational coast-to-coast layup knotted things at 64 with 2:47 remaining. But Glastonbury answered when Semelovos sank a pair of free throws and Seymour drove through the lane for a layup.
Blue Dragons junior guard Amanda Fudge (eight points) buried a top-of-the-key 3-pointer and Highsmith sank 1 of 2 free throws to tie it at 68 with 39.5 seconds left.
Seymour then hit a clutch bank shot off an inbounds pass and after Barcomb’s rainbow 3-pointer rattled off the rim, Semevolos drained two more free throws for a 72-68 lead with just 10 seconds to play.
“I was proud of our girls,” Glastonbury coach Chris Vozzolo said. “We battled, we kept our focus. We talk about mental toughness a lot, getting tougher, and our girls showed that. We executed when we needed too and had a couple of extra possessions that ended up helping us.”
Semevolos finished with a game-high 19 points, Seymour added 16 points, while Bogue netted 15 points.
“We’re happy with this big win,” Vozzolo said. “We have the utmost respect for Middletown. We’re trying to get better every day right now, peak in March and trying to be the best team we can be at the end of the season.”
Highsmith had 18 points, Wilborn scored 16 points, and senior Jenny Barbour added 14 points.
“The gym, the excitement, the level of play…it was like a state quarterfinal game,” Smernoff said. “I’m always going to be OK when the effort is there and the effort with these kids for 11 games is all I can ask for. This certainly gives us even more belief that we can play with the top teams in the state because Glastonbury definitely is a top team.”