By MICHAEL LETENDRE
WATERBURY – Before moving on to the Class M girls state tournament fray, the St. Paul Catholic girls hoop team had a little Naugatuck Valley League Tournament business to complete.
And the Falcons, 19-3 overall, went into the Finals of the NVL hoops Tournament looking for not just victory number 20 on the campaign but a NVL title as well.
By the completion of tournament action, both of those missions were accomplished.
The tournament started out for the Falcons in the quarterfinal round in a 45-32 victory over No. 7 Sacred Heart.
And this past week, second ranked St. Paul Catholic got by No. 6 Kennedy 44-38 as the Falcons were cruising through the fray.
From there, the Falcons advanced to the NVL Tournament finals and on Wednesday, Feb. 22, the locals challenged No. 1 Holy Cross for all the marbles.
In a true state tournament test for both squads, top ranked Holy Cross – who had already beaten St. Paul Catholic earlier in the campaign 59-50 back on January 20 – could do very little against the Falcons’ defense over the second half of play.
In fact, Cross entered the contest at 21-1 but pieced together just 30 total points in the showdown and fell by 17 as the Falcons won the NVL Tournament cham-pionship for the first time in program history, 47-30.
That’s called a postseason statement.
St. Paul Catholic won 20 games and once again, one of the Falcons’ outstanding freshmen led the charge in scoring against Holy Cross.
Janessa Gonzalez led a balanced scoring attack with 14 points while Brigid Johndrow flashed in 11 for the Falcons.
Jade Udoh cashed in seven points while forwards Amelia Sanchez and Molly Hooks added six apiece over the winning effort.
The Falcons allowed only one player, Meah Austin, to score in double figures and she was only able to tally 10 points for Cross.
But it was a game over the first half of action as St. Paul Catholic led 20-19 at intermission as the game was certainly afoot.
However, it was all downhill from there for the number one seed.
Cross dropped in only 11 points over the second half, including just four in the final period, as the outfit from Bristol earned the NVL Tournament championship.
Gonzalez was crowned the tournament MVP while Johndrow earned All-Tournament honors.
NOTES…The Falcons earned the seventh seed in the Class M bracket, taking on Griswold last Monday in a first round clash…Udoh led the charge with 14 points while Johndrow added 11 in the winning endeavor against Kennedy during the quarterfinal round.
NVL Girls Hoop Tournament: Saturday, Feb. 18 at Holy Cross
No. 4 Torrington vs. No. 5 Seymour
*The Raiders won the showdown, 55-54
No. 3 Watertown vs. No. 6 Kennedy
*The Eagles upset the Indians 44-38
No. 2 St. Paul Catholic (17-3 overall, 16-2 NVL) vs. No. 7 Sacred Heart (11-7)
*The Falcons easily defeated the Hearts by a 45-32 final, moving to 18-3 on the season
No. 1 Holy Cross (17-0) vs. No. 8 Wolcott (9-9)
*Cross was an easy 67-48 winner over the Eagles
NVL semifinal round – Monday, Feb. 20
St. Paul Catholic 44, Kennedy 38
Holy Cross 59, Torrington 48
NVL Championship – Wednesday, Feb. 22
St. Paul Catholic 47, Holy Cross 30