TORRINGTON >> Wolcott Tech’s girls basketball team (8-7) qualified for the state tournament for the second time in school history with its eighth victory of the season, 43-38 over Vinal Tech (2-10) Thursday afternoon at Wolcott Tech High School.
After years of 0-fer seasons in Berkshire League girls basketball, school administrators made two moves that moved the Wildcats up. They hired Brian Hurlock as girls coach five years ago, then switched to the Constitution State Conference the following year.
Hurlock’s long coaching resume includes a number of successful area reclamation projects. The move to the CSC finally pitted Tech against other state technical schools with issues like work-study projects depriving teams of veteran players, along with an occasional city juggernaut like Capital Prep.
The coaching/conference combination raised the Wildcats to state tournament levels (40 percent wins) in two of the last three years.
This one might have been the tougher one.
“We only returned 14 points from last year’s team,” said Coach Hurlock. “We’ve had great leadership on and off the court from senior captain Kimmie Stack and our sophomores and juniors have stepped up. We’ve had four different high scorers this year.”
“We’ve grown as a team,” said sophomore Taylor Wheeler.
Nevertheless, “It’s been a bumpy road this year,” said Hurlock.
Thursday’s game was a good example.
The Wildcats beat the young Hawks handily (38-23) in Middletown last week. Thursday, just a single point separated them at halftime (20-19, Wildcats). The Hawks still threatened hard with five minutes left in the game, 39-36, Wolcott Tech.
“Our defense was the difference in the first half,” said Hawks coach Jason Coleman, who starts a freshman and two sophomores. “In the first half, we slowed down their shooting. In the second half, their shots started falling.”
That was the story for both teams much of the night.
The Wildcats came out like a team feeling the pressure.
“(Qualifying) was huge,” said Wheeler. “I talked about it all day in school.”
The Hawks, on the other hand, had nothing to lose.
Wolcott Tech’s senior leader, Stack (11 rebounds) put down the first basket from outside.
Vinal Tech sophomore Monique Cloutier (game-high 16 points) answered with a three. Wolcott Tech had the lead back with a layup, 4-3.
The lead went back and forth to the quarter’s final minute through lots of missed opportunity.
Casey Farrington (team-high 15 points – 5 threes) found her range for two treys in a row for the first real separation, 12-7.
Vinal’s Cloutier narrowed the lead with a pair of foul shots in the quarter’s final second, 12-7.
The Hawks played leap frog again through 15-13, Wildcats, 4:26 left in the half. Farrington found her shot again, 18-13. Vinal’s Desiree Deschaine and Cloutier closed out the half on a 6-2 run, 20-19, Wolcott Tech.
A bumpy road, indeed.
Wheeler and Farrington, a junior, stepped way up in the third quarter. Wheeler bombed the first two Wolcott baskets from just inside the arc. Farrington took the next two outside. Senior Ashley Desrosiers (6 rebounds, 3 steals) used her speed to get to the foul line. Mikey Albreada (9 points) and Wheeler dropped another pair.
Steam rose from a 36-23 Wildcat lead, 2:42 left in the third quarter.
Vinal Tech had more bumps left for the Wildcat road.
Cloutier found her mark for five points in the third quarter’s last minute, 38-30, Wolcott Tech. She was still on for the first basket of the fourth.
After a foul shot by Stack, Hawks Karen Agogliati and Christine Harrison hiked the tension back to a 39-36 lead, five minutes left in the game.
A minute ticked off the clock before Albreada hit from the outside, 41-36.
Two more minutes carried it to 1:01.
Albreada, a junior, stepped to the line in a horrible foul-shooting night for both teams.
She buried both shots, 43-36.
The game was effectively over.
“It was good to get the win,” said Farrington.
“We can’t take weak teams for granted,” said Hurlock.
“I think we came together today,” said Wheeler.
Wolcott Tech plays a benefit game for the prevention of Alzheimers next Friday in a game against Platt Tech. All proceeds go to the Alzheimers’ Association.
Wolcott Tech 43, Vinal Tech 38
At Wolcott Tech High School
Vinal Tech 9 10 11 8-38
Wolcott Tech 12 8 18 5-43
Vinal Tech (38): Donna Agogliati 2-0-4; Karen Agogliati 4-0-8; Christina Harrison 2-0-4; Monique Cloutier 6-2-16; Desiree Deschaine 2-2-6; Monique McClain 0-0-0; Totals: 16-4-38.
Wolcott Tech (43): Ashley Desrosiers 0-2-2; Taylor Wheeler 5-0-10; Mikey Albreada 3-3-9; Casey Farrington 5-0-15; Brianna Genest 0-0-0; Sarah Morey 1-0-2; Tanesha Peterson 0-0-0; Kimmie Stack 2-1-5; Totals: 15-5-43.
3-point goals: VT-Cloutier 2. WT-Farrington 5.
Records: Vinal Tech 2-10; Wolcott Tech 8-7.