Come backs and come-from-behind victories are part of the game in any athletic completion. Then there are the special occasions where victory is pulled from the jaws of defeat.
What took place at the Ivan Wood gymnasium on Feb 6 during the senior night celebration for the girls basketball team can only be described as the Miracle in the Ville with Plainville upending Maloney 52-48.
Plainville was running out of chances to reach the post season and qualify for the state tournament for the third year in a row under head coach Jessica Neuweiler. The Blue Devils saw several games slip away and end up in the loss column. But instead of sporting a 9-7 mark, Plainville limped into the senior night contest with a 5-11 record.
Plainville had an 8-2 lead going into the second quarter when they went scoreless over a four minute span. Maloney scorched the nets putting down 27 points to take a 29-14 advantage at the half.
The Blue Devils’ defense picked up the pace holding off Maloney allowing just six points in the third quarter. But the offense of Plainville continued to struggle. Even when given the opportunity to close the gap they couldn’t capitalize hitting on just 5 of 16 from the foul line.
With five minutes to play, it appeared that another game was heading for the loss column as the Blue Devils trailed by 15 points 42-27. Then something happened. Kori Jones (18 points) hit a pair of free throws and for the first time in the game Plainville converted back-to-back free throws.
“We knew we were running out of chances,” said Jones. “Not only in this game but for the season. I have a lot of confidence in this team and we just pulled together and got it done.”
It didn’t seem all that significant at the time but it did mark a shift in the atmosphere inside the Ivan Wood gymnasium. Jaida Vasquez (12 points, 7 rebounds, 8 steals) hit a free throw and Jones drove the baseline for a bucket and with three minutes to play the lead was down to 10 points 42-32.
“When we play as a team we are unstoppable,” said Vasquez. “We missed a lot of shots but when it came down to making plays in the end we were there.”
It was still a 10-point deficit with under two minutes to play when Tessa Susco (19 points) went to work. Susco hit three-pointers on back-to-back trips down the floor and on the last one she was fouled and converted the free throw to complete a four-point play.
“We never felt that we were out of this game,” said Susco. “If we just kept working hard and not give up that it would turn around
The crowd was in a frenzy as suddenly it was a 46-43 game with 1:13 to go. Could it even be possible that Plainville was back in this game after not being able to hit a crucial shot all night long?
Jones hit a foul shot and missed on the second attempt. But as the ball was heading out of bounds Sydney Ouellette came racing over to knock it off a Maloney defender. Plainville had possession again and Vasquez squeezed off a two-pointer in the lane that tied the game with 48 seconds left.
Maloney tried to get it up the court only to have Vasquez come up with a steal and feed it to Susco who put one in off the window getting fouled. Coach Neuweiler came leaping off the bench trusting her fist in the air as the rest of the Plainville bench was going wild.
Plainville was out in front 48-46 when Susco, who scored 10 points in the final two minutes of the game, buried the free throw to open up a 49-46 advantage. Jones added three more free throws to account for the final outcome 52-48 in the most amazing comeback the ‘Ville has seen in quite some time.
“All year we have struggled to put 32 minutes out on the court,” said Neuweiler. “That can happen with a young team. But I have told those three girls that if they can all hit for double figures we can be successful. That was the first time this year they all hit for double figures in the same game.”
“You are not going to do that every game but when we do we will be successful. We still have a ways to go and we will see if we make it to the states. But a game like this says an awful lot about the heart of this team. I’m so proud of them right now.”
Plainville fell short to Lewis Mills 45-40 on Feb 11 as Jones 18 points and Vasquez 11 points were the only double-digit scorers. The Blue Devils earned another crucial victory Feb 14 over Bristol Central 57-42 improving to 7-12 on the season.
Jones led the way with 22 points; Lilly Wazorko had 12 points, Ouellette 9 points, Vasquez 8 points and Elena Gorneault 4 points.
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