They're long, as basketball coaches like to say. They have length. Hillhouse (New Haven)
, No. 2 in last week's state writers' girls poll, has length and it used it in a dominating way against No. 1 Mercy (Middletown) in the Southern Connecticut Conference Tournament championship game.
Hillhouse actually trailed for much of the game but controlled the glass throughout, 27-14 in the first half and 46-24 for the game. The problem early was none of its shots were falling.
The Academics (21-2) shot 22.6 percent in the first half. When they picked it up a little in the second half (40.9), it was enough to catch the Tigers (21-2) and pull away for a 50-43 victory for their sixth conference tourney title at The TD Bank Sports Center at Quinnipiac University.
Hillhouse has five players 5-foot-9 or taller in its rotation; Mercy has two who are 5-10 and both are guards. The Tigers' inside players are small 5-6, 5-7 and 5-9. For Mercy, even when they held the lead until 6:45 was left in the game, they usually had only one shot before the Acs' inside players cleared the boards. And Hillhouse had multiple opportunities on the offensive end, sometimes three, four rebounds and putbacks before a shot fell.
"They were doubling it down easily. With Andreana Thomas
being able to penetrate, they respected her so much, they threw three people at her, we were able to reverse the ball and get it inside or set screens where we were in positions to get the offensive rebound," Hillhouse head coach Catrina Hawley-Stewart said. "That was our key. We knew they were going to be heavy up top. We wanted to position ourselves. Even though we're big, we did a really good job of boxing out. "
Tournament MVP Bria Holmes
of Hillhouse scored a game-high 19 points, Kalinka Deroche
had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Courtney Brown
The Acs' standout guard Moore was 1-for-13 from the field but 7 of 8 from the free throw line, including 5 of 6 in the last 1:10.
"That was a tough loss, but we've got some other games to play. So, hopefully we'll regroup and move on from there," Mercy head coach Tim Kohs said. "What killed us, (Holmes) is a great player, and she created a lot of havoc. She puts it on the floor and now we've got to come help. The dump-downs and the putbacks killed us. They're hard enough to guard on one shot, you're not going to guard them on three or four shots and expect them to continue to miss them."
Mercy's Sadie Edwards
scored a team-high 15 points, and Maria Weselyj
These teams won't play each other in the state tournament because they're in different classes: Hillhouse, which reclaimed the top ranking in the state Monday, is in L and Mercy, now No. 2, is in LL. The Acs are two-time defending champions. Mercy was LL runner-up last season and last won a title in 1996 (L).In other girls conference tourney finals:
* No. 5 Glastonbury
(21-2) defeated No. 3 Manchester
(21-2) for the second time this season 67-53 behind Cara Manfredi's
23 points for the Central Connecticut Conference title. Manchester's Ashley Perez
* No. 8 Holy Cross (Waterbury)
(22-1) defeated Torrington (21-2) 65-48 in the Naugatuck Valley League final as tournament MVP Briana Bradford
scored 17 for Cross.
* Riley Wurtz scored a game-high 18 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, to lead Newtown
(20-3) to a 41-32 victory over Lauralton Hall (Milford) (18-5) for the South-West Conference title.
* Tournament MVP Alexa Pfohl
scored 12 points to help Trumbull
(22-1) defeat Ridgefield (18-5) in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Conference final 48-38.
* Coginchaug Regional (Durham)
hung on for a 42-41 victory over Portland in the Shoreline Conference final. The Blue Devils' Samantha Mancinelli
scored a game-high 19 points.
* Lewis Mills (Burlington)
(22-0) stayed perfect with a 41-34 victory over Thomaston (19-4) in the Berkshire final.
* No. 4 Bacon Academy (Colchester)
(23-0) remained undefeated with a 57-46 victory over Windham (19-4) in the Eastern Connecticut Conference title game. Bacon's Katie Mahoney
scored 25 points.
(19-3) won the Northern Central Connecticut Conference final with a 60-45 victory over East Granby (18-5). Ellington's Julie Gage
scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds.BACON WINS STATE WRESTLING TITLE
Bacon Academy (Colchester)
took the State Open Wrestling team championship with 98 points at the New Haven Athletic Center Saturday. Bacon won titles at 160 pounds with Covone Devin and Norman Aren at 189.
Pat Gillen of Shelton
won his second straight open title at 215 pounds. Gillen is 196-14 in his career, four wins shy of the state record.
The New England Championships are this weekend at New Haven Athletic Center.GLASTONBURY WINS STATE GYMNASTICS TITLE
won the Class L Gymnastics team title over perennial power Southington, 142.300-138.225. Woodstock Academy
took the M title with 139.075 points, and Valley Regional (Deep River)
won in Class S with 132.450.
There are no individual titles at the class meets. The State Open, which features team and individual championships, is Saturday at Pomperaug (Southbury).STORYLINES
* Amity Regional (Woodbridge)
boys hockey upset No. 4 Notre Dame (West Haven) 4-3 on Luke Sacramone's
overtime goal at 1:35 of the extra period.
* In the SCC boys basketball tournament, No. 3 Career Magnet (New Haven)
, No. 6 Hillhouse (New Haven)
, Fairfield Prep
and Wilbur Cross (New Haven)
have reached the semifinals on Tuesday at the TD Bank Sports Center.
* In the CCC boys basketball tournament, No. 2 Northwest Catholic (West Hartford)
, No. 5 Windsor
, No. 7 Maloney (Meriden)
and No. 9 Hartford Public
have advanced to Tuesday's semifinals.Paul Rosano, the former assistant sport editor of The Hartford Courant and sports editor of The New Haven Register, covers Connecticut for MaxPreps.com. He may be reached at email@example.com.