WINSTED >> No. 2 Nonnewaug played like a train pulling out of the station in its 39-31 Berkshire League Tournament semifinal win over No. 3 Lewis Mills Tuesday night at Northwestern High School.
The first half was painfully slow. Then the Chiefs turned into an unstoppable force in the second half.
“We had some nerves in the first half. We were facing a good team on a high-energy night against an in-your-face defense,” said Nonnewaug coach Adam Brutting. “We made better decisions in the second half. We attacked at the right time. We also had more patience with our shots.”
“We came to a realization that this could be the last time we play together as a team in the Berkshire League,” said junior forward Courtney Carlson (game-high 13 points), a sparkplug for the Chiefs’ second-half rise.
“We put it together as a team,” she said.
The Chiefs move on to Friday’s tournament final at 7 p.m. against Thomaston, which beat Housatonic 52-35 in the other semifinal. The game will be back at Northwestern.
Lewis Mills played without senior point guard Natalie Ruel, out with an ankle injury.
“We showed our youth at times,” said Spartan coach Joe Capitani. “We missed (Ruel’s) leadership. We needed a general on the floor.”
Nevertheless, Mills’ youth carried the energy in a sloppy first half for both teams.
Amid first-quarter forced shots and turnovers, the Spartans got the ball to 6-2 sophomore center Samira Abdeirehim for six of her 10 points for the game. Freshman Gabby Bagdonas finished off first-quarter scoring with a three from the corner, 11-8 Spartans.
The second quarter was worse for both teams.
Carlson struck for three layups in the first two minutes, but the Chiefs managed just one more point in the period. Lewis Mills had five points – an early three by Ruta Martisauskaite and a baseline drive by sophomore Corinne Morrow, giving Mills a 16-15 lead into the locker room.
That’s when realization hit the Chiefs, who graduate starters Jess Fengler, Sarah Schivera and Olivia Morgan this year. The train was on the move.
Patience got forward Nonnewaug’s Deanna Maurice open in the corner for a three. Carlson darted in for a steal. Morgan hit from the baseline. Mills turned it over on Nonnewaug’s press. Maurice was open in the corner again, another three. The Chiefs led 23-16.
Abdeireham put up Mills only points of the period with a layup, 2:50 left in the quarter. Spartan Ailene Berry scored all 10 of her game points in the final period, trying to stop the Chiefs’ momentum. It was too big a job.
Berry scored five points in the period’s first minute to get close, 25-23, but a foul shot from Fengler and a great feed to Morgan drew the Chiefs away, 28-23.
They added speed with another Carlson steal and dish to Fengler. Another steal by Fengler, layup by Maurice, 32-23.
Nonnewaug smoke trailed into the distance. Still, the Spartans didn’t quit. Abdeireham, Berry and Bagdonas got to 35-31, 30 seconds left.
Nonnewaug’s Carlson and Fengler went 4-for-4 at the foul line as time ran out.
Thomaston 52, Housatonic 35
No. 1 Thomaston took care of business with a 52-35 win over No. 5 Housatonic in Tuesday’s second Berkshire League girls basketball tournament semifinal game at Northwestern High School.
The defending Class S champion Golden Bears (18-3) built their lead through the first three quarters behind Morgan Sanson (12 points) and Casey Carangelo (game-high 15 points), then sent in the reserves.
Thomaston led 16-11 after one period, 30-19 at the half and 43-24 after three quarters. Amanda Jacquier led the Mountaineers (11-11) with 10 points.
Thomaston meets Nonnewaug in the tournament finals Friday at 7 p.m. at Northwestern High School.
The teams split during the regular season. The Chiefs are the only BL team to beat the Bears this season.
No. 2 Nonnewaug 39, No. 3 Lewis Mills 31
Berkshire League semifinals at Northwestern
Lewis Mills 11 5 2 13 – 31
Nonnewaug 8 7 8 16 – 39
Lewis Mills (31)
Jennifer Merritt 0-0-0; Ailene Berry 4-0-10; Corinne Morrow 1-0-2; Amanda Sullivan 0-0-0; Alyssa Wrabel 0-0-0; Futa Martisauskaite 2-0-5; Gabby Bagdonas 1-1-4; Samira Abdeirehim 5-0-10; Totals: 13-1-31
Mary Bibbey 0-0-0; Jennie Wingard 0-0-0; Sarah Schivera 2-1-5; Courtney Carlson 5-3-13; Deanna Maurice 4-0-10; Jess Fengler 2-3-7; Olivia Morgan 2-0-4; Totals: 15-7-39.
3-point goals: LM – Berry 2; Martisauskaite; Bagdonas. N – Maurice 2.
Records: Lewis Mills 16-6; Nonnewaug 18-4.
No. 1 Thomaston 52, No. 5 Housatonic 35
At Northwestern High School
Housatonic 11 8 5 11 – 35
Thomaston 16 14 13 9 – 52
Housatonic (35): Hannah McGuire 2-0-6; Chloe Dakers 3-2-8; Amanda Jacquier 4-2-10; Emily Geyselaers 0-1-1; Savannah Martin 2-0-4; Chelsea Kearns 1-0-2; Brooke Dodge1-0-2; Olivia Forstmann 1-0-2; Totals: 14-5-35
Thomaston (52): Julia Quinn 3-0-9; Nicole Schaefer 0-0-0; Danielle Genest 0-0-0; Gabby Hurlbert 2-1-5; Morgan Sanson 6-0-12; Charlotte Eberhardt 2-1-5; Camryn Capaldo 0-2-2; Alexa Milius 1-0-2; Samantha Brostek 1-0-2; Casey Carangelo 6-3-15
3-point goals: H – McGuire 2. T – Quinn 3.
Records: Housatonic 11-11; Thomaston 18-3.
Morgan Sanson, Thomaston; Ruel, Lewis Mills; Brooke Neller, Wamogo; Caroline Kelly, Shepaug; Carlson, Nonnewaug; Emma Beltrandi, Northwestern; and Liz Wexler.
Beltrandi also won the Edward Kolakoski award for hard work, skill and leadership, created in honor of a long-time supporter of the game.
Updates every minute – View full tournament