Canton’s redemption tour is complete.
And it concluded with the program’s first state title.
The third-seeded Warriors knocked off No. 1, and two-time defending champion, Thomaston 64-51 in the Class S state championship game this past weekend at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville.
Canton lost to the Bears 52-50 in last season’s Class S final. The Warriors earned a 43-34 win over Bolton in the semifinals to advance to this year’s championship. Canton had lost to Bolton once in this regular season and again in the NCCC tournament semifinals.
“With Bolton and then this game (Thomaston), too, we had nothing to lose,” Canton junior Emily Briggs said. “We were the underdogs. We just came out here and showed how hard we work. We have a lot of heart. I think that’s what won both of those games.”
Briggs, who scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in this year’s final, said she wanted the rematch with Thomaston.
“I think we all did,” Briggs said.
This year the Warriors were able to hold their nerves in check, unlike last year’s title game.
“Last year we were really nervous I think,” Briggs said. “Nerves got the best of us a little bit. This year, we knew what it was like. We were obviously nervous but I think we were more excited to play. That really showed on the court I think.”
Canton was playing in its fourth final. They lost in previous trips to the championship game in 1999 and 1982 in addition to last season.
“You knew we had to beat teams they really didn’t give us a chance of winning,” Canton coach Brian Medeiros said about his team’s tournament run. “I think we played that underdog role last year to get here, and the last couple of weeks, we were able to play that role again. It’s kind of fitting for these kids. These kids don’t think they’re the top of the top. They have to believe it. More times than not, they struggle with that, and I think it was an unbelievable thing that we were able to do that (Saturday in the final).”
Perhaps the biggest difference in Cromwell’s 43-20 win over Notre Dame-Fairfield in the Class M final was Cromwell’s loss to St. Joseph in last year’s title game.
“I think last year’s loss drove us this year,” Cromwell coach Kelly Maher said. “We were a little naive when we got started (last year), a little taken back by the whole scenario. But this year, they knew what it takes to get here and they got it done. I couldn’t be happier for them.”
The Panthers finished 28-0 and won their second title in four seasons.
Capital Prep senior Desiree Elmore scored just eight points in a 51-48 win over New London in the Class L final, but it was enough for Elmore to become the school’s all-time leading scorer (boys and girls).
The Syracuse-bound Elmore reached the milestone in the second quarter — on her second basket of the game. She finished her career with 2,236 points.
“It feels good,” Elmore said. “I know somebody will come through eventually and break that. Right now, I hold it. It’s a good feeling.”
Elmore’s teammate, junior Angelique Rodriguez scored eight points against New London, including the 1,000th of her career.
Feeling the pressure
Elmore and the Trailblazers won their fourth straight title. She admitted there was pressure to win again.
“It was a lot of pressure,” Elmore said. “We had some big shoes to fill with all of our seniors leaving (from last year). But we were able to do that, and we came out with a win.”