By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Over its first two state tournament games, opponents of the St. Paul Catholic girls basketball squad have scored a total of four fourth quarter points.
And in order to beat the Falcons, that kind of scoring output is not going to get the job done.
No. 23 Valley Regional cut a 14-point deficit to one to start the fourth period of play against seventh rated St. Paul Catholic but a 20-2 game ending run foiled the Warriors as the Falcons earned a 52-33 second round win in the Class M tournament from the Maltby Street Gymnasium in Bristol on Friday, March 3.
With the victory, St. Paul Catholic moved to 22-3 on the season and earned a date with third ranked Career Magnet on March 9 from New Haven.
Valley Regional ended the year at 13-9 overall.
And against the Warriors, the Falcons used its defense once again to force the squad into 12-of-34 shooting from the field (35.2-percent) and stuffed the unit for 25 turnovers.
Falcons’ reserve Janessa Gonzalez notched a game high 20 points to go along with two rebounds and three assists while Brigid Johndrow captured 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three steals for yet another complete game effort.
Chantell Lopez added nine points, Alexa Morneault notched four points and dished out four assists, while Jade Udoh scored two points but nabbed a team best 12 rebounds – six on the offensive side.
Amelia Sanchez (two rebounds), Alexandria Mourges (two rebounds, two steals), and Molly Hooks (four rebounds, three offensive) all contributed to the winning effort.
Once again, another Falcons state tournament opponent did not have a double figure scorer as Fran Daniels zipped in only nine points to lead the Wolverines in scoring.
The visiting squad never tasted the lead but did enough to keep it a game three quarters into the affair.
Chantell Lopez scored the first five points of the game and when Johndrow buried a hoop, it was a 7-2 contest about four minutes into things.
Valley closed the deficit to one point late in the stanza but with 10 seconds left in the first quarter, Johndrow found Morneault for a three-point bomb as St. Paul Catholic took a 10-6 edge into the second period of action.
The Falcons opened the ensuing frame with a 13-3 push and when Gonzalez canned a three with just about 3:30 left in the first half, the home outfit surged in front 23-9.
St. Paul Catholic led 25-13 at the half but Valley made a nifty run to make it a one possession contest.
The Falcons netted only seven points in the third and off two free throws by the Wolverines to close out the frame, it was suddenly a 32-29 game with St. Paul Catholic clinging to a three-point edge.
But then that Falcons defense suddenly went into overdrive.
Valley’s Libby Spitzschuh threw in a lay-up to open the fourth, making it a one-point game with 7:23 to go, and when Alexis Finnerty hit two free throws around the five-minute mark of the fourth, it was still a one possession tilt.
However, the Wolverines never scored again and that 36-33 deficit was as close as the squad came to the lead again.
Gonzalez then hit two consecutive shots and when Morneault stole the ball and made a free throw with 4:04 left, St. Paul Catholic stretched the lead out to 41-33.
It was the start of a charity shooting contest as the Falcons hit 12 of its final 16 attempts and the Wolverines could only stand by helplessly and watch.
And when Chantell Lopez hit two free throws with 16.8 seconds left, St. Paul Catholic was in complete control and won the contest by a 52-33 final.