MERIDEN – The Platt girls basketball team celebrated after the final buzzer sounded on a 50-44 victory over East Hartford in a CCC interdivisional contest at Platt High on Friday night.
The conquest was Platt’s sixth in a row, the longest in head coach Tina Gonyea’s tenure. The win also improved the Panthers to 8-3 and clinched a berth into the postseason.
The Panthers did it on Friday night just like they have done it throughout the run: with a balanced offensive attack. Madison Chatman and Jayleena Gordils paced Platt with 11 points apiece. Julia Misner added 10, Wallica Bailey chipped in with eight. Martha Chatman registered six going 6-for-7 at the foul line.
“These kids just find a way,” Gonyea said. “We hadn’t really talked about (clinching states). I try to keep them grounded and focused, and our motto is one game at a time, no matter who it is. We come out and we scout, prepare a game plan and stick to it.
“We try to be humble and work hard. That’s what we are trying to do.”
The contest was all Platt in the first quarter. The Panthers led 15-8 after the first eight minutes despite being out-rebounded in the early going.
Gordils came off the bench and sparked the Panthers with seven points in the initial quarter as the home team built its lead. East Hartford (2-9) went 6:53 between buckets. Bailey, a freshman, drilled a baseline jumper to end the quarter.
The Hornets opened the second quarter on an 11-2 run and took their first lead on back-to-back buckets midway through the frame by freshman Ke'Asjha Brown (12 points). The guard had seven points in the quarter.
Meanwhile, Platt’s offense hit a road block. The Panthers had just one field goal in the second stanza. Madison Chatman delivered on a layup with 45 seconds left in the half to draw Platt within 22-20 at the break.
That margin flipped around in the third quarter, which ended with Platt on top 34-32 as Misner scored the final five points of the period.
In the fourth quarter, East Hartford missed its first five shots while Platt got a layup from Bailey and an old-fashioned three-point play from Madison Chatman to build the lead to 39-32 with 5:34 left.
East Hartford freshman forward Amaya Mitchell-Howard, who scored a game-high 15 points, answered with an old-fashioned 3-point play of her own.
Then the two teams exchanged conventional 3-pointers — Tatiana Cruz for East Hartford, Gordils for Platt. The Panthers were up 42-38 with just over three mintues to go.
From there, it was all about the charity stripe. Platt went 8-for-11 from the line to salt this one away. The Hornets never had the ball down one possesion in the closing minutes.
“This win means so much to me,” Madison Chatman said. “It’s been a long battle. We’ve had our differences and there’s so much going on, and I’m so happy we made states and it’s only going to get better from here. A lot of tears, sweat and desire has gone into this winning streak.”
Gonyea said her team has gelled.
“They really like each other,” Gonyea said. “We had a pasta dinner last night and this was not even the Maloney game. Sometimes I don’t think we are the most athletic team, but we work hard for 32 minutes and we don’t stop until that final horn goes off.”