MERIDEN – Melanie Polanco took the chill off a frigid Saturday by scoring 19 points to lead the Maloney girls basketball team to a 36-31 win over Wilcox Tech in a city rivalry clash at the Joseph Schiopucie Gym.
Wilcox (2-2) didn’t go down easy. Tatiana Gonzalez and Nicole Tiezzi each had two baskets in the stanza.
But Polanco scored seven points and Olivia Aitken added five in the first to keep the Spartans (2-5) one step ahead.
“Overall it was a great team effort,” Maloney coach John Vieira said. “We got big on the boards today, but we’re a work in progress. We’ve got to learn to close out games but they worked hard. Melanie hit some great shots, Liv played some solid defense and Abby Lespier was great on defense. She’s growing up every game.”
Wilcox began to drift in the second quarter, managing just four points and missing some easy shots. Defensively, they couldn’t find a way to slow down Polanco. The Spartans’ All-State candidate shot 50 percent from the field, snared 10 rebounds (10), made three steals and dished out three assists. The Spartans led 21-14 at the half.
“I can’t fault our effort,” Wilcox Tech coach Rob Janiga said. “The kids played hard. We battled them. Polanco is a very good player and we tried to throw her a couple of different defensive looks to make it tough on her but in the end we just came up short.”
Polanco continued to lead at both ends of the floor the third quarter. She scored another seven points in the stanza, three on a step-back from long distance.
The Indians’ struggle to score also continued. Sam Petro accounted for all four WIlcox Tech points in the period.
Trailing 32-18 after three, the Indians made their move, outscoring Maloney 13-4 in the fourth. Petro had seven points and Gonzalez drained a pair of shotss in the quarter, while the defense blanked Maloney from the field.
All four Maloney points came from the free-throw line when the Tribe were forced to foul down the stretch. Aitken was 3-for-4 from the line and Alexa Papallo split a pair in the closing minutes, enabling Maloney to end a five-game slide.
“I thought we played pretty well up until the fourth quarter,” Vieira said. “I don’t like how we finished. We took our foot of the gas pedal a little bit. Wilcox played hard and they didn’t quit.”
Petro finished with a team-high 13 points and Gonzalez had 10 points for Tech. Tiezzi and Kayla Ransom finished with four each.
Aitken supplemented Polanco’s effort with 10 points. Lespier added four points and Courtney Ubaike grabbed seven rebounds.
Platt 50, Bristol Central 30: The Panthers earned a CCC crossover win with a balanced offensive attack on the road.
Kiara Lopez paced Platt (3-3) with 12 points. Martha Chatman (9 points), Madison Chatman (8), Jaleena Gordils (8) and Wallica Bailey (7) were also productive.
Sarah Guerin led Central (0-6) with 12 points.