MIDDLETOWN >> Middletown High’s girls basketball team used a big second half to blow out Plainville, 58-38, to take over first place in the Central Connecticut Conference South Saturday evening at the LaBella-Sullivan Gym at MHS.
“After a little bit of a bumpy start, I thought we executed our offense and defense as well as we have all season,” said MHS coach Rob Smernoff. “That we did this without two of our key players [Shariffah Mason, Merissa Aldieri, both injured] says a lot of good things about our team.”
Middletown broke from a 20-14 halftime lead to lead 39-31 after three, then piled it on in the fourth quarter outscoring the Blue Devils 19-7.
Plainville coach Jennifer Gombotz wasn’t happy.
“I have no answer to that,” she said while asked to comment on how her team played. “I think when [Kelsey] Clemons got in early foul trouble and was taken out of the game, that hurt us. But we have to be able to look to other options.”
Clemons, Plainville’s star was whistled for three early fouls and sat much of the game. She finished with just six points, four of them free throws.
“Plainville has a terrific player in Clemons,” said Smernoff. “We made a point of shutting her down and forcing other kids to beat us. We did that.”
Middletown (5-3) got scoring across the board and had four players in double figures, led by Tamyia King’s 14 points. Rajeen Mayo had 12, and Mikaela Coady and freshman Brielle Wilborn had 10 each.
In the third quarter, it was Wilborn who provided the spark. After Clemons and Mayo traded baskets, Deja Nolan cut the lead to 23-18. Then Wilborn got back-to-back hoops to give MHS a 27-19 lead with 5:20 left in the third. Another Wilborn basket late in the quarter gave Middletown a 10-point lead at 37-27.
“I was extremely pleased with the play of Coady,” said Smernoff. “She doesn’t necessarily light up the scoreboard, but she does so many things well and she is our best defender. I also thought that Ja’Laizha Frazier-Overton gave us a big boost off the bench.”
With the win Middletown improved to 4-0 in the CCC South. Plainville fell to 5-4 and 2-2 in the division.
“We’ve never won a division, so that’s one of our goals,” said Smernoff. “If I do have a prayer it’s that one night soon I will have my whole team free from injuries. That might happen this week, unless somebody else goes down.
Middletown is home with Bristol Central Monday at 7 p.m.
“That’s now a really big game,” said Smernoff.