SOUTHINGTON – The Southington girls basketball team’s red-hot run has continued into the postseason.
The No. 8 Blue Knights had strong performances from Janette Wadolowski, Alli Carr and Madison Hulten to earn a 68-51 CCC Tournament first-round win over No. 9 E.O. Smith on Thursday night.
Southington’s postseason quest will continue on Saturday in the second round against No. 1 RHAM in Hebron.
The Blue Knights (16-5) were clearly pumped for the postseason. Wadolowski scored in the opening seconds on a layup. It was just a taste of what was to come. She pumped in a game-high 32 points to go along with 12 rebounds and six steals.
“We just wanted to come out strong and then end strong, “Wadolowski said. “That’s what we were focusing on today. Sometimes we start out slow and pick it up at the end of the game. This game we came out strong got a good lead and kept it going all game.
“We were all ready,” she added. “We were getting ready an hour before the game. Today was a big day of group text messages, let me tell you that. Everyone was getting hyped.”
Wadolowski exploded for 17 points and eight rebounds in the first half as the Blue Knights held a 33-25 lead at intermission.
Wadolowski and Hulton (8 points) provided the bulk of the offense in the first quarter as the Blue Knights blitzed to a 17-8 advantage.
Taylor Verboven, who scored a team-high 25 points for E.O. Smith, kept the Panthers in it during the early going with a trey and an old-fashioned three-point play to tie the game at 6.
That’s when the Southington offense got cooking with a 11-2 run to finish the period.
“We talked about getting off to a quick start,” Southington coach Mike Forgione said. “You have to do that in these type of games. Madison Hulton, you have to give her credit. She did a great job early getting the ball high off the glass. Those six points in that first quarter got us going.”
Carr made her presence known in the second quarter with eight points. The freshman had the duties of marking Verboven, who had 14 at the half. Carr canned a career-high 19 points.
“She’s just finishing those layups,” Forgione said. “Sometimes she’s so explosive that she gets too far underneath the hoop on those layups. She focused on finishing. She’s another scoring threat and another girl teams have to look at. She’s coming into her own. We don’t even consider her a freshman with all of the minutes she has played.”
The squads exchanged buckets for much of the third quarter until Southington ended the frame on a 8-3 run and went up 48-35 after three quarters, the biggest lead of the game to that point.
Wadolowski opened the fourth with a trey that put Southington up 16.
“I do what I have to do,” said Wadolowski, who pushed her career point total to 1,172, third best on Southington’s all-time list. “It’s my senior year and I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to it to end. This is my last year playing as a Blue Knights and I’m ready to go.”
Southington led by 14 with 4:15 left in the game. Taylor Golembiewski connected on a jumper for the Panthers and E.O. Smith coach Mary Roickle called a timeout to set up her press.
It worked, as the visitors converted back-to-back steals into a pair of buckets, including a Verboven trey, that drew them to within 56-49 with 3:13 left.
That was the Panthers’ last gasp. The Blue Knights sealed the win at the line and answered with a 10-0 run. The victory was Southington’s sixth in a row and 12th in its last 13.
Next up is RHAM (20-1). Southington lost 55-40 in Hebron on opening night.
“We were down six after three quarters and we started the fourth on a 5-0 run,” Forgione recounted. “But then they scored they last 14 points of the game. We are the underdogs and we are going to play hard.”
Enfield 68, Platt 31: After a 6-6 first quarter, the No. 3 Eagles steadily pulled away from the No. 14 Panthers in this first-round CCC game in Enfield.
Mary Baskerville scored 15 points to lead four Enfield scorers in double figures. Jayleena Gordils had a team-high 10 for Platt. The Chatman sisters, Madison (8) and Martha (6), combined for 14.
Enfield (17-4) advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals. Platt (12-9) awaits its Class L state tournament seed.
Simsbury 34, Maloney 17:Though the final score might not indicate it, the Spartans had a viable shot of upsetting Simsbury.
This first-round game was tied at 15-15 after three quarters before the host No. 2 Trojans pulled away behind Kate Sullivan, who hit five 3-pointers in fourth quarter.
Sullivan finished with 17 points for Simsbury (19-2).
Olivia Aitkin led Maloney (10-11) with six points. Simsbury held Maloney scoring leader Melanie Polanco to three shots and two points.