MADISON — It isn’t often that a team that leads for just 5:18 ends up winning.
But that’s exactly what happened Friday night as Hand came from behind to defeated Hillhouse, 59-52, in a Southern Connecticut Conference girls’ basketball contest.
“I didn’t think it was that long,” Hand coach Tim Tredwell said. “It seemed like it was for under a minute.”
The Tigers led for the first 1:28 when Hillhouse took the lead until the fourth quarter when Hand finally took the lead, 48-47, on back to back baskets by Maddie Thomas (12 points) with 4:04 remaining to play.
“I think it gave us confidence,” Thomas said. “In the past, I haven’t been great offensively, but I’m stepping up and it’s helping my team.”
“There were a few times we’d get it to zero, but then we’d find ourselves down by five,” Tredwell said. “Going to the fourth quarter, it felt like it just wasn’t our night. If that had happened in December, we probably lose this game by 20. The younger kids probably wouldn’t have been ready to step up. The kids stayed composed.”
— Dave Phillips (@davephillips41) February 8, 2020
After Thomas put Hand ahead, the Tigers extended the lead to five, 52-47, but Hillhouse refused to go away. A pair of steals led to layups by Keyshan Johnson (14 points) knotted things again at 52-52 with 1:32 left to play,
However, Sara Wohlgemuth (21 points) made the most of her Senior Night with a basket and five free throws to account for the final margin. Hand improved to 15-3.
“We just didn’t do what we did in the first half,” Hillhouse coach Catrina Hawley-Stewart said. “We got away from that. We didn’t box out and get the 50-50 balls. In the fourth quarter, they got offensive rebounds and got the ball in the middle where we didn’t allow that earlier.”
The win was the seventh straight and 13th in the last 14 games for Hand which has only lost once since Dec. 27. That came at the hands of Sheehan on Jan. 17 (49-41).
“I think everything is starting to click,” Wohlgemuth said. “I don’t think we’ve fully clicked but hopefully it will in the SCCs where it’s wide open and at postseason time.”
Early on, Hillhouse dominated the first quarter. The Academics put pressure on the Tigers and were able to get the ball inside to go on a 11-0 run midway through the quarter with Trinity Moody (14 points) scoring six points and Shaniya Butler (10 points) four to lead the way.
On the other side, Hand struggled from the field, missing layups as the Tigers went 3:16 without scoring a point.
Finally, Hand went on a 7-0 run with a conventional three-point play by Sophia Coppola pulling the Tigers within 17-12 with 1:25 to go in the quarter.
The host Tigers seemed to benefit from the break in quarters as they scored 11 of the first 15 points to tie things when Hadley Haughton (12 points) nailed her second trey of the night to make it 25-25 with 4:48 remaining until intermission.
Johnson followed by canning a pair of layups and Moody added a three-pointer from the left corner to give the Academics a 32-25 lead with 1:32 to go.
Four free throws by Wohlgemuth enabled Hand to close to the gap to 34-29 at the break.
“It was really weird even some of the layups we thought would go in weren’t,” Wohlgemuth said. “So We were trying to get out defense going and hoped it would lead to more offensive opportunities.”
Hand was able to tie things at 36-36 in the third quarter but a 6-0 spurt at the end of the period gave the Academics a 42-36 edge going to the final eight minutes.
Hillhouse fell to 8-10 with the loss.
“I’m not happy,” Hawley-Stewart said. “I’ll be happy when we’re able to beat teams like Hand. We had it, so I’m not content.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Hand senior guard Sara Wohlgemuth scored 21 points, 12 of them coming in the second half.
“Without a doubt, 100 percent we are running out of here with this win,” Hand coach Tim Tredwell said when asked if his team stole a victory.