SOUTH WINDSOR >> The Bobcats kept their distance.
It had the feel of a blowout, but Amity hung around. The Spartans just couldn’t make a push, falling to No. 4 South Windsor in the quarterfinals of the Class LL state tournament, 65-56 at South Windsor High School.
The Bobcats defense forced the ball outside all night, keeping Amity anywhere but close to the basket.
And now South Windsor is back in the state semifinals. It will play Westhill March 14 on a neutral court to be determined.Westhill stunned top-seeded Danbury, 55-54.
“We matched up well with (Amity) size-wise and we wanted to force them to their weaknesses,” South Windsor coach Don Leclerc said. “They have a couple of good outside shooters, they definitely have a good post player who likes to attack the rim.”
That post player would be senior Molly Ronan, who the Bobcats held to eight points, including a scoreless second quarter.
At the same time, Alex Goslin went to work. The sophomore, who runs a majority of the South Windsor offense, was initiating the fast break and dishing to her teammates.
Midway through the third quarter, Goslin led a 2-on-1, finding Christina Rozie under the basket to give South Windsor a 42-33 lead.
After three scoreless minutes, Amity answered with a bucket by Mikaila Schmitt and then Janaya Young added a foul shot to get within 42-36. That would be the last time Amity scored without South Windsor answering.
South Windsor started the fourth quarter on a 8-3 run for its first double-digit lead of the game. Schmitt hit a 3-pointer with 1:14 left for Amity, but the Bobcats kept the lead at 10 until the final possession.
“We forced them to shoot from the outside, really put a lot of pressure on their ball-handlers and we forced them into some bad decisions.” Leclerc said.
What kept the Spartans in the game, especially in the first half. was their free throws, something coach Michelle Martinik said her teams takes pride in.
While the Bobcats were making their shots from the field in the first, Amity was scoring from the line, hitting 10 of 11 in the first quarter, including Elise Graham hitting all six of hers, seven total in the game and finished with a game high 19 points.
The Spartans finished the game making 15 of 20 and according to Martinik, they only played one game this year where they shot under 70 percent from the line.
South Windsor missed its first six, but wound up making 18 of 30. Olivia Bolden, the South Windsor leading scorer with 16, missed her first five, but rebounded to make four of her next seven, including three in the final quarter to seal the deal.
“Unfortunately, she missed a few early on that got her in a funk,” said Leclerc of Bolden. “But the second half she regrouped, like a senior will and pulled it together,”
A different person for the Bobcats steps up every night according to Goslin, tonight it seemed like the whole team rallied around her. With just over five minutes left in the second, with Amity threatening to take the lead, she hit a jumper. Thirteen seconds later, she took a feed from Molly Murphy to extend the lead to five.
Kristina Russo nailed a 3 after a bucket by Amanda Vecchio and three-point play from Graham.
Later, Goslin she stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for a lay-up with three seconds before halftime. South Windsor led 31-27 at the half.
“Our team was so supportive of each other, we came together when we needed to,” Goslin said.
Four different Bobcats scored in double-figures. Bolden led the way with 16, followed by Russo with 14, Goslin 12 and Murphy 11.
All 10 players who got in the game for Amity scored, with Graham being the only in double-digits.
Even with the defensive effort put forth by his team tonight, Leclerc still feels like their best defensive effort is yet to come.
“It’s crazy, I don’t know what else to say,” Goslin said.