WINSTED — No. 1 seed Housatonic plays No 2 seed Northwestern for the Berkshire League girls basketball tournament championship Friday at 7 p.m. at Northwestern High School.
The top seeds emerged from wildly different semifinal games Tuesday night at Northwestern in an eight-team tournament that played out exactly according to its seedings.
In the first game, No. 3 Gilbert did its best to change that, falling to the Highlanders 35-33 after leading for the first four minutes of the final period.
No. 4 Nonnewaug stayed close for the first four minutes of the second game before Housatonic’s defense and a frigid shooting night left the Chiefs in single digits for the first three quarters of a 52-21 Mountaineer wipeout.
The winning teams each played with sickness among their stars.
“Friday’s game might just come down to who’s the healthiest,” Housatonic coach Steve Dodge said.
Tuesday’s winners had a combined 4-0 regular-season record against their opponents, so the semifinal margins held the only real surprise.
Gilbert’s defense frustrated the Highlanders in the first semi, after losing to Northwestern by 12 and nine points in the regular season.
“We went more to a zone this time after playing them in a straight man defense last game,” Yellowjacket coach Gerry Hicks said.
Nevertheless, Northwestern seemed in control with a 25-18 lead at the half. Then they hit the skids with a two-point third quarter.
“Tonight, we played well in the first half. Saturday (in a 50-44 win over No. 6 Thomaston), we had just 10 points at the half,” Coach Fred Williams said.
In a 10-2 third period, Gilbert’s Marci Moreira charged through the open door on a fast break, giving the Yellowjackets a 28-27 lead with 1:10 to go in the quarter.
Jill Wexler and Angie Delacruz (team-high 11 points) improved the lead to 32-29 with a pair of foul shots and a turn-around eight-footer early in the final period.
Northwestern’s Skylar DiMartino (team-high 11 points) took the lead back with her second straight basket off a steal from Emma Propfe (10 points, all in the first half) and Jana Sanden cranked it to 35-32 with a pair of foul shots with 1:57 left.
Gilbert still had chances. A foul shot by Delacruz left the game a basket away for the Yellowjackets with 1:05 to go. But, on a subpar night for the Highlanders, their poise was still intact.
Northwestern held the ball down to 11 seconds left on the clock and a final Gilbert three-point attempt missed its mark.
In the second game, Caroline Hurlburt led the runaway Mountaineer train with 14 points. Sydney Segalla had 12.
“It gave me a chance to rest some of the sick kids and show off some of our JVs,” said Coach Dodge.
No. 2 Northwestern 35, No. 3 Gilbert 33
At Northwestern High School
Gilbert 9 9 10 5 — 33
Northwestern 10 15 2 8 — 35
Gilbert (33): Jill Wexler 3-2-9; Abbey Beecher 1-0-2; Angie Delacruz 5-1-11; Marci Moreira 2-0-5; Dileysi Sarmiento 1-0-2; Totals: 13-5-33.
Northwestern (35): Frankie DeSanti 1-0-2; Skylar DiMartino 4-3-11; Emma Propfe 5-0-10; Natalie Lederman 1-2-4; Jana Sanden 3-2-8; Totals: 14-7-35.
3-point goals: G — Wexler; Moreira.
Records: Gilbert 15-7; 13-7 Berkshire League. Northwestern 20-2; 18-2 Berkshsire League.
No. 1 Housatonic 52, No 4 Nonnewaug 21
At Northwestern High School
Nonnewaug 2 3 2 14 — 21
Housatonic 10 12 9 21 — 52
Nonnewaug (21): Ashley Hennessey 1-0-3; Arden Peters 1-0-2; Victoria Maclean 0-1-1; Courtney Rowland 1-3-6; Abigail Scheurich 1-0-2; Maddie Woodward 2-3-7; Totals: 6-7-21.
Housatonic (52): Kaylie Anderson 3-0-6; Caroline Hurlburt 5-4-14; Sydney Segalla 5-2-12; Ella Segalla 3-0-6; Christina Winburn 3-0-6; Madelynn Olownia 4-0-8; Totals: 23-6-52.
3-point goals: N — Hennessey; Rowland.
Records: Nonnewaug 13-9; 12-8 Berkshire League. Housatonic 21-1; 20-0 Berkshire League.