GIRLS BASKETBALL: Surging Rams beat North Haven in oT, ride winning streak into postseason

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Surging Rams beat North Haven in oT, ride winning streak into postseason

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CHESHIRE — The late-season surge for the Cheshire girls basketball team continued with a Senior Night win on Monday night.

The Rams (6-14) scored the first seven points of overtime and bolted to a 47-42 SCC crossover victory over North Haven (12-7) in front of a packed house.

Senior Emma Watkinson was the star for Cheshire with a game-high 17 points as the Rams celebrated Senior Night in style. The win also clinched a postseason berth for the hosts.

Watkinson drilled a 3-pointer to start the extra session to put the Rams up 40-37.

“That was a gutsy three and a pivitol play down the stretch,” Cheshire coach Michelle Vieira said. 

Following a Tess Givens steal, Watkinson went to the line and knocked down a pair from the line as Cheshire went up 42-37. Following a North Haven turnover, Watkinson penetrated and dished to Kaylee Clark for a trey.

“Kaylee Clark has hit some big shots for us this year,” Watkinson said. “This was the best game we’ve played as a team all year and it felt so good to do it in front of so many fans tonight.”

Ari Perlini had nine points for the Rams. She and fellow seniors Toni Wetmore, Rylee Post and Watkinson were honored before the game and played their final career home game on Monday night.

“We’ve been playing together since fourth grade,” Watkinson said. “I feel we played we played the best we’ve ever played as a team.” 

North Haven held a 16-15 lead at the break behind a trey by Laura Petrafesa with 40 seconds left in the half. The shot gave the Indians their first lead since a 1-0 edge in the opening minutes.

The 3-pointer also capped a 8-0 North Haven run over the final 6:21 to finish the half.

Cheshire took control of the first quarter. Perlini (9 points) had back-to-back driving layups and Grace Lurz (7 points) came off the bench to drill a 3-pointer. Lurz also took a charge in the closing minute of the first quarter.

Rylee Post had a put-back to give the Rams a 11-5 edge after one quarter of play.

Ella Watson (7 points) hit two field goals early in the second quarter as Cheshire went up 15-8, but the hosts went into a drought and missed their final six shots of the half.

Sarah Puzone, who netted a team-high 13 points, scored North Haven’s first eight points of the third quarter. North Haven left 29-26 after three.

North Haven’s last lead, 36-33, came on a 3-pointer by Petrafesa with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter.

Perlini tied the game by banking in a trey with 2:33 to go to tie the game 36-36.

Watkinson, who will play college basketball at Endicott, split a pair from the line with 32.8 seconds left.

Watkinson also grabbed a block and rebound at the otherend, but the Rams threw the inbound pass out of bounds. That gave North Haven the ball with 10 seconds left. Eveani Okwuosa was fouled and hit the first of two to tie the game. Perlini’s deep 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit the back rim and bounced out.

Cheshire took control in overtime and never looked back.

“I’m extremely proud of how they played tonight with our backs against the wall,” Vieria said. “The only thing I said to the girls in the locker room is, ‘That’s why we play the game; we have continued to work hard in practice and have continued to fight.”

The Rams defeated Branford and Lyman Hall last week and will await the state tournament pairings to see where they will head in the Class LL bracket.

“We would like to have a few more wins, but I tell the girls all of the time that we play some of the best teams in the state,” Vieira said. “We will be going into the state tournament playing our best basketball.”