MERIDEN — If this was indeed the last game for the seniors on the Platt girls basketball team, they went out in style Monday night with a city sweep of rival Maloney.
Leading the CCC South-Colonial Division game from the opening tip on Senior Night, Platt raced past Maloney 43-23 to keep its faint postseason hopes alive. The Panthers finished their season 5-14 and now must sit back and wait to see if they’ll qualify for the Class L playoffs.
At No. 32, Platt currently holds the final Class L seed and will hold onto it if Harding (3-14) doesn’t win its final three games.
If both teams finish with five wins, Platt will reach the postseason due to playing only 19 games. The Panthers’ winning percentage would be better than Hardings’, which plays 20 games.
“We have to just wait and hope all the stars align,” Platt head coach Tina Gonyea said. “We did what we had to do.”
“We are keeping our fingers crossed,” senior Julia Misner said. “But it just felt good to beat Maloney. Tonight, we had to just focus on winning because we needed it (to have any chance at the postseason). And it was Senior Night and our last game — maybe.”
Platt took any thoughts of losing to Maloney out of the equation by the middle of the third quarter. Platt, which led 19-14 at halftime, held the Spartans to a single 3-pointer by freshman Gracey Massicotte in the third quarter and opened up a double-digit lead.
Misner had eight points in the third and her 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the frame gave Platt a 34-16 lead heading to the fourth.
Platt then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to lead 39-16, the second basket coming from senior Donia Hussien off a nice pass from Misner.
The Panthers led 41-21 with 3:42 to play on two free throws by Chatman, who along with fellow seniors Misner, Hussien and Jayleena Gordils exited to standing ovations in the final minute.
“When it’s Maloney-Platt, you never know who is going to show up mentally,” Gonyea added. “And it’s Senior Night. All their parents, grandparents and family are here. They get so nervous, and that worries me.
“But you know what, I told them, ‘It’s time to wipe away the tears and focus,’ and they did, thankfully.”
Platt beat Maloney 38-29 on Jan. 17. The Spartans fell to 3-16. Maloney finishes its season Wednesday night at home against Wilcox Tech.
“We couldn’t get the ball to go into the hoop, we couldn’t make free throws and we couldn’t keep Jalexia West off the glass or out of the paint,” Maloney head coach John Vieira said. “I’m disappointed with our effort.
“This was a chance to keep Platt out of the tournament,” Vieira added. “I felt we could have played some more inspired basketball. But we are going to come back and fight on Wednesday.”
Leading a balanced Platt attack wasn’t one of the four seniors who started, but rather the sophomore West (13 points). The 5-foot-10 forward dominated inside, notching her fourth double-double in five games.
West’s play in the paint opened up the outside for Misner (11 points) and Chatman (13 points). Chatman slashed her way to nine points after halftime.
“I did good, but it was more about a team effort,” West said. “My coach told my teammates to pass me the ball inside because there were some mismatches that allowed me to take the ball to the rack.”
“It’s just clicked for West,” Gonyea said. “But I’m just happy for our seniors. The first time we played (Maloney) it was a little closer. The whole season has been up and down, we’ve been so inconsident. But we had a game plan and we stuck to it.
Platt took a 15-5 lead before Maloney finally found some consistent offense. That offense came from Massicotte, who hit back-to-back 3’s to get the Spartans within 17-13 in the half’s final seconds.
Massicotte led the Spartans with seven points. Abby Lespier had Maloney’s only other field goal in the first half for Maloney, which managed just seven field goals in the game.
West led the way for Platt in the first quarter as the Panthers took advantage of her size and aggressiveness in the paint. West scored eight of the Panthers’ 11 first-quarter points, all coming inside the paint, as Platt led 11-4 after eight minutes.
With Maloney missing five of its first six shots and committing five turnovers, the Panthers took an 11-3 lead on West’s inside layup after Julia Misner hit a wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing.
Misner’s basket was Platt’s only points other than West in the first quarter. West went 3-for-3 from the field and made both of her free throws after being fouled under the basket.