Stonington’s peaking at perfect time
— Stonington put together Montville and then executed a winning game plan in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II girls' basketball tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night.
The Bears threw a defensive blanket over St. Bernard standout An- gelica Tompkins and used their size advantage to score inside and dominate the boards.
It all added up to a convincing 5939 win.
Fifth-seeded Stonington never trailed after taking the lead less than two minutes into the and built a 24-9 advantage by halftime. The Bears (1011) advance to the semifinals, playing top-seeded Lyman Memorial at 1 p.m. Saturday at Plainfield High School.
Sophomore Rory Risley led a balanced attack with 21 points while sophomores Emily Obrey (15) and Katelyn Cadmus (10) also scored in double figures.
Also give credit to MacKenzie Pettegrow and Leah DePerry who chased Tompkins all over the court and made her take tough shots. Their stellar defense limited Tompkins to just two points in the first half, helping the Bears to get off to a fast start.
“Angelica is a big threat, so we thought we'd go right out into a boxand-one,” Stonington coach Paulla Solar. “I'm lucky to have a couple of good defensive players that I can alternate, so that helps.
“She's a marvelous player. As you saw, even though she was face-guarded, she still got her points in.”
Tompkins finished with 19 points, scoring 14 straight in the third quarter to help the fourth-seeded Saints (11-10) cut the gap to 31-22.
But Stonington refused to buckle. Senior Diya Patel's 3-pointer
sparked an 8-0 run. Then Pettigrow's pass set up Obrey's fast-break basket. A persistent Risley scored off her own rebound to cap the spurt and increase the lead to 39-22 late in the third quarter.
“Rory did a great job inside,” Solar said. “Offensively, I thought she was really good on the boards. She just kept on at it and at it and at it, which is really great to see.”
The Bears maintained a comfortable double digit lead the rest of the way.
St. Bernard coach Mike Nystrom was pleased with his team's effort.
“Stonington has been playing great,” Nystrom said. “They beat Windham and they beat Waterford. They've been playing really well. I knew we had a tough game. My kids didn't quit. We played hard and we didn't fold.”
Solar has seen tremendous growth in her young team this season.
“We had a rough beginning of the season,” Solar said. “I'm feeling really good because they're starting to peak a little bit and being more confident. It's scary when you come out of your freshman year and you get thrown into a varsity schedule. It's exciting that some of the things are starting to fall into place.”
“They all have a great role and they seem to be okay with it.”