MERIDEN — It wasn’t always pretty, it was hardly predictable and, in the end, it went down to the wire.
In Meriden’s second rivalry girls basketball game in as many nights, Maloney held on to beat host Wilcox Tech 31-29 on Wednesday night.
The Indians, stinging from Monday night’s 41-17 loss at Platt in their season opener, had a chance to catch the Spartans at the buzzer after stealing an inbounds pass in the closing seconds. Kayla Ransom’s mid-range shot missed at the buzzer.
Ransom is the girl Wilcox wanted taking that shot. She had a game-high 15 points.
“I think that we showed that we have a lot of guts and a lot of grit,” said Wilcox coach Jim Ferraro. “There’s a lot of work that we have to do to get to being the skill level of a varsity basketball team. There’s not a lot of varsity basketball players that we have on the court skill-wise, but as long as we have the mentality that we’ll play as hard as we can, we hope to get to that point by mid season.”
Aliyah Rivera (12) and Olivia Aitken (10) were in double figures for Maloney, which improved to 1-4.
“We showed our youth, but they kept fighting,” Maloney coach John Vieira remarked. “There were a couple times there where we could have let it slip away, but we kept grinding and that’s what we’re looking for out of our young players.”
Sparked by an 8-3 first quarter, Maloney led all the way. Wilcox, however, hung around. It was 26-18 heading into the fourth quarter, where Wilcox out-scored Maloney 11-5.
“Both teams played hard on both ends,” Ferraro said. “I’m proud of the comeback we had. We got in that gray area of eight or nine points down, but we made our comeback. Our wins will not be pretty. They’re going to be like this. This showed me that last night’s defeat didn’t deflate them.”
“Wilcox is going to win a lot of games in their league this year, playing like that,” Vieira said. “Jimmy’s got them rearing and going. We’re still trying to find our way, trying to handle pressure, but we’re young.
“This was a good teaching moment today. Some of them realized that you can’t just stare down the passing lanes, you gotta make something happen. I’m proud of the way they fought. We have to clean some things up but we’re going to be a different team in January.”