MIDDLETOWN—They showed no Mercy all season long and the Tigers walked away with the biggest prize.
The Mercy girls basketball program has the Class LL championship plaque in its trophy case. And the Tigers can celebrate their well-earned status as the No. 1 ranked girls basketball team in the final New Haven Register/GameTime CT Top 10 poll.
Mercy capped a wondrous 27-1 season by starting the postseason with three victories to capture another Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) Tournament crown. It was their sixth-straight SCC Tournament final appearance.
The No. 2 seeded Tigers then added five straight triumphs through the Class LL state bracket capped by last Saturday’s 49-37 win over No. 5 Hall to take home its third state championship. Mercy also won the 2013 Class LL title and 1996 Class L title.
After vanquishing Cheshire in the first round, Mercy met and conquered FCIAC heavyweights Stamford, Norwalk and two-time FCIAC and 2017 Class LL runner-up Trumbull to reach the finals.
“If we weren’t the No. 1 team in the state, I don’t know who is,” said Mercy coach Tim Kohs. “We were ranked No. 1 or No. 2 (with New London High) all year. I think we certainly earned this. We beat all comers and these girls deserve to be the number one ranked team in the state.”
Mercy’s roster, which featured five seniors and eight juniors, was led by senior Bella Santoro.
Santoro, a 5-foot-10 guard, was named Gatorade Connecticut Girls Basketball Player of the Year. The criteria is both athletic and academic. Santoro, who will play basketball at Stonehill College in the fall, has a 3.45 GPA and is a peer minister at the Catholic school.
Santoro was the point guard and maestro of the Tigers’ attack. She averaged 17.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.9 steals.
Mercy also punished Hall on the backboards in the Class LL final, compiling a 36-18 rebound edge including 17 offensive rebounds.
Senior 6-foot-0 center Meghan DeVille collected 14 points and nine rebounds against Hall to go with Santoro’s 24-point, nine-rebound performance.
“It feels really good to be ranked as the No. 1 team in the state,” Santoro said. “It’s an accomplishment we can all feel very good about because we did this together.”
Final GameTimeCT / Register Top 10
|TEAM (1st place votes)||Rec||PTS||LAST||DIV|
1. MERCY (12)
|Bottom Line: Conquered Hall in Class LL final for third state title. Beat Stamford, Norwalk and Trumbull on Road to Mohegan Sun. A deserving No. 1 team in state.|
2. RHAM (1)
|Bottom Line: Topped Farmington, 58-35, for Class L title. Program’s first state crown. Took on all challengers all season long.|
3. EAST HAVEN
|Bottom Line: Captured Class M title over Career Magnet, 49-47, with furious comeback and Isabella Ragaini’s shot at the buzzer.|
|Last Week: Lost to Mercy in Class LL final capping an otherwise wonderful season with a strong, late-season run.|
5. NEW LONDON
|Bottom Line: ECC Division I champs saw their season of perfection and repeat LL title run end in quarterfinals, falling to Enfield. Last two campaigns a great accomplishment.|
|Bottom Line: The CCC champions (over Hall) ended New London’s dreams 69-61 in Class LL quarterfinals. But the Eagles lost to Hall in a classic Class LL overtime semifinal.|
|Bottom Line: Repeated as FCIAC champions but had no answer against Mercy in LL semifinals. The Eagles flew to great heights.|
|Bottom Line: Couldn’t stop RHAM’s barrage of 3-pointers in Class L final. Many kudos for fighting its way to L runnerup plaque.|
|Bottom Line: Lost to Class M champion East Haven, 56-55 in the SCC semifinals. Fell to eventual L champ RHAM, 59-40 in the Class L semifinals.|
|Bottom Line: Despite losing three seniors at the start of the year, the Blue Devils still managed to pull off a state championship, 71-42 over SMSA in Class S.|
|Dropped out: ND-Fairfield (9), Simsbury (10).
First-place votes in parentheses and points tabulated on a 30-28-26-24-22-20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7 basis.
|Others receiving votes: Career Magnet (17-10), 143; Simsbury (21-4), 116; Norwalk (19-5), 63; Newtown (21-5), 50; SMSA (18-7), 50; Rocky Hill (20-6), 41; Hamden (18-6), 36; ND-Fairfield (19-6), 34; Wethersfield (17-8), 34; Wilton (19-6), 26; Cromwell (21-4), 18; East Lyme (16-9), 11; Holy Cross (Waterbury) (23-4), 10; Stamford (16-8), 9; Weston (18-7), 8; Sacred Heart (Waterbury) (21-6), 7; Capital Prep (13-7), 7.|
|The following voted: Eric DeMarco, Notre Dame-Fairfield; Vickie Fulkerson, The Day of New London; Tim Jensen, Patch; Mike Madera, Elm City Newspapers; Brian Medieros, Canton; Scotty Nails, Rye (NY) Country Day; Dave Phillips, Shoreline Newspapers; Lori Riley, Hartford Courant; Mike Suppe, Han Network; Fred Williams, Northwestern; Rick Wilson, Waterbury Republican-American; Richard Zalusky, Willimantic Chronicle; Jimmy Zanor, Norwich Bulletin.