BRISTOL – The St. Paul Catholic girls basketball squad got right to work on Monday, Feb. 25 in the first round of the Class S state tournament, belting No. 30 Coventry 70-26 from the Maltby Street Gymnasium in Bristol.
The win propelled the third-ranked Falcons to a second round date with No. 14 Parish Hill in Bristol.
It was the fifth season in the Joe Mone-era that the team has won exactly 22 games – with the possibility of several more victories to follow. St. Paul Catholic moved to 22-2 overall on the year.
The Falcons won by 44 points and along the way that night, the 24 points notched by junior Janessa Gonzalez put her into the Mum City record books.
Gonzalez became the third female player in St. Paul Catholic history to score 1,000 points and the 12th girl overall from Bristol to accomplish that feat.
Gonzalez (1,001 points) joined Liz Stich (1,783 points) and Chelsea Mone (1,031) as St. Paul Catholic’s newest member of the 1,000-point club.
And while the scoring was obvious that night for the Falcons, so was the outstanding defense.
The team tallied over two dozen steals with Gonzalez (seven steals) and Jade Udoh (seven) leading the charge.
Udoh rang up a game-high 25 points – nearly outscoring the opponent all by herself – while teammate Emma Cretella added two points, four assists, and five steals.
Olivia Heslin nabbed six points, Olivia Stump had five while Catherine Ciampi, Ashley Suzio, Kailyn Bielecki and Lillian Sirois all added hoops for the winning side.
Coventry’s Lydia Tata led the charge with 11 points while Sophia Mansella added four but the squad simply couldn’t keep up on the scoreboard as the turnovers began to pile up in a hurry.
The Patriots ended the campaign at 8-13 overall.
St. Paul Catholic put together back-to-back 20-point quarters on its way to a huge advantage by the halftime break.
Coventry trailed 20-6 after one period of play and while the visitors posted an 11-point second period of play, the squad trailed 40-17 at intermission.
But the Patriots managed just nine points the rest of the way as the home team led 57-23 through 24 minutes and won the event scoring 70 points – tying the team’s season-high in points scored this year.
NOTES…Class S first round upsets included No. 24 Shepaug beating No. 9 East Windsor (40-32) while No. 28 Northwest Catholic was a 53-41 winner over No. 5 Sports Medicine & Sports Academy…The Falcons made its 12th consecutive appearance in state tournament play this year and has been a postseason contender since going 5-15 in 2006-07.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.