A big game from Mosqueda-Lewis at a big time of year

UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (23) had a game-high 23 points and five 3-point goals in UConn's win over Rutgers Monday night.

UConn’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (23), who had a game-high 23 points and five 3-point goals, brings up the ball against Rutgers’ Kahleah Cooper (2) in UConn’s victory Monday night. (Photo courtesy American Athletic Conference)

STORRS, March 23 — The greatness of a player can often be measured by how they perform in the biggest games of the season. Connecticut senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis must be added to that list. She has been both reliable and prolific over the course of her career in the tournament. Nothing changed Monday night in the second round against No. 8 Rutgers. Mosqueda-Lewis finished with 23 points, five 3-point goals and four assists in 32 minutes to lead No. 1 UConn to a 91-55 victory. The 23 points is a career-high for KML in 19 NCAA tournament games. Read more from Rich Elliott at Litchfield County Sports.

Rose plays in All-Star Festival, Canton ranked No. 16 in final poll

Canton senior Gabby Rose played in the CHSCA Senior All-Star Festival Monday night in North Branford.

Canton High senior Gabby Rose (32) played in the CHSCA Senior All-Star Festival Monday night in North Branford.

CANTON, March 23 – Canton senior Gabby Rose played one last high school game on Monday night. Rose was selected to play in the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s annual senior All-Star Festival at North Branford. 

Rose played on the Class S/M West team along with fellow NCCC rival Julia Mazzotta of Granby. Farmington’s Sophie Borg and Hannah Friend played for the Class L/LL West team along with Katie Martensen of Simsbury. Canton coach Brian Medeiros was an assistant coach on the Class S/M team. 

Rose scored 10 points for the West in a 91-87 loss to the East. In the Class L/LL game, Friend scored a game-high 37 points to lead the East to a 108-87 victory and earned game MVP honors.Continue Reading

A dream come true for Benedetti with an outstanding performance at Gampel

Canton's Saran Benedetti of St. Francis Brooklyn (14) battles for position with UConn's Morgan Tuck in Saturday night's NCAA Division I tournament game in Storrs.

Canton’s Saran Benedetti of St. Francis Brooklyn (14) battles for position with UConn’s Morgan Tuck in Saturday night’s NCAA Division I tournament game in Storrs.

STORRS, March 21 – From the moment she stepped on the Gampel Pavilion hardwood Saturday night, Canton’s Sarah Benedetti had a smile on her face. It was the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and Benedetti and her St. Francis Brooklyn teammates were facing the defending national champions Connecticut on national television (ESPN).

Dozens of friends, family and fans from Canton filled an upper section of Gampel Pavilion and they were a vocal group with several signs of support for the 2011 Canton High graduate.

“This is a dream come true,” she said earlier this week. “As a younger kid, I always watched UConn. I grew up watching them. How cool would it be to play on UConn’s floor or play against UConn.  If someone were to tell me at the beginning of my college career that you would be finishing as a senior at Gampel Pavilion playing UConn, I would have never believed it.”

Benedetti was St. Francis’ best player Saturday night in a 89-33 loss to the Huskies. For most of the game, she had half of her team’s points. She finished with a team-high 13 points, including 3-of-9 from three-point range. She had a block, a steal and scored a hook shot over Kiah Stokes in the second half. Benedetti hit her first shot of the game, a deep three-pointer with just 1:26 gone in the contest.Continue Reading

Playing for a state championship: A day that won’t be forgotten

Saturday’s Class S championship game between the Canton and Thomaston High girls basketball teams produced memories that will last a lifetime. The result wasn’t what the Warrior fans were looking for but it was a wonderful journey. It was a hard-fought game between two scrappy teams that hit the floor, play hard and play with passion until the final whistle. Here are some video highlights of the day and Thomaston’s 52-50 victory from John Fitts at the Canton Compass and CPTV Sports, which broadcast the game across the state.

Video highlights of the game from the Canton Compass.

Video highlights of the game from CPTV Sports.Continue Reading

Avon’s Strassner takes 2nd in 200 freestyle at State Open

Strassner DSC_4739

Avon’s Riley Strassner

NEW HAVEN – Avon junior Riley Strassner had hoped his third trip to the State Open would give him the opportunity to win a championship. On Saturday at Yale’s Kiputh Pool, he was on his way. 

Swimming in the 200 yard freestyle, Strassner led at the midway point of the race by 0.41 of a second. But Cheshire High junior Karl Bishop took the lead on the third leg of the four-lap race and held off Strassner to win the State Open title in the 200 freestyle by 0.33 of a second. 

Bishop won the race in 1:41.44 while Strassner took second in the race for the second straight year with a time of school record time of 1:41.77. Continue Reading

Canton comeback falls short in championship game loss to Thomaston

Thomaston's Casey Carangelo tries to stop Canton's Gabby Rose (32) from getting to the basket in Saturday's Class S championship game.

Thomaston’s Casey Carangelo tries to stop Canton’s Gabby Rose (32) from getting to the basket in Saturday’s Class S championship game.

UNCASVILLE  — After three quarters, the Canton High girls basketball team had shot 18 percent from the floor in Saturday morning’s Class S championship against Thomaston at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Yet, the Warriors trailed by just five points.

Twice, Thomaston had leads of 13 points in the second quarter. But as the final seconds of this state title game counted down, there was Canton with opportunities to win. The Canton fans thundered when Maggie Treacy drained a three-point shot with 52 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to cut the Thomaston lead to two.

“I said, wow, we can actually do this,” Treacy recalled with a smile.

A steal by Canton’s Abbe Skinner with 36 seconds left gave the Warriors the chance to tie or take the lead. Emily Briggs’ shot with 22 seconds left was off the rim and Thomaston’s Gabrielle Hurlbert tipped the rebound out to teammate Casey Carangelo to allow the Bears to control it.

Treacy had a block with nine seconds left but the Bears once again were able to control the ball. After her block, Treacy grabbed the ball out of the air but she had part of her foot on the end line so she was out of bounds.

Thomaston played with the guile and confidence of a champion as they outlasted pesky Canton, 52-50 to win their second straight Class S championship before a few thousand fans. Thomaston’s Nicole Schaefer, who was scoreless in last year’s double OT win over St. Paul, scored 11 points and drained three 3-point field goals. Julia Quinn scored 12 points and added a two back-breaking three-point shots, too.Continue Reading

Canton girls aiming for first state title Saturday morning at the Sun

Canton's Maggie Treacy races past Notre Dame's Raina Ceryak (34) in Friday's semifinal game in Waterbury.

Canton’s Maggie Treacy (23) and the Warriors play Thomaston Saturday morning at Mohegan Sun Arena for the Class S championship.

CANTON – The Canton High girls basketball team began the season with 15 consecutive victories. But they hit a rough patch in February going 4-4 over a eight-game stretch that included the final five games of the regular season and three games in the NCCC Tournament.

Canton’s struggles in February have helped the Warriors grow and improve. The Warriors have won three straight tournament games and earned a spot in the Class S state championship on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. against defending champion Thomaston at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Top-ranked Canton (22-4) is looking for the first state championship in the program’s history. No. 3 Thomaston (22-3), playing in the finals for the third consecutive season, is looking to retain its championship crown.Continue Reading

Twice, Canton girls have played for the state championship

Paul Grossman talks to his Canton High girls basketball team during a game during the 1998-99 campaign.

Paul Grossman talks to his Canton High girls basketball team during a game during the 1998-99 campaign.

On Saturday, the Canton High girls basketball team will play Thomaston for the Class S title in search of its first state championship in school history. The Warriors have been in the finals twice in 1982 and 1999. 

In 1982, Canton won only 12 regular season games with a senior-dominated lineup but they won four straight Class S tournament games including a one-point win over top-ranked Wamogo to earn a spot in the championship game for the first time. In the final against Westbrook, the Warriors played even with the Purple Knights for two quarters before dropping a 70-41 decision.

In 1999, Canton finally broke down the door to earn an invitation to the championship game after being eliminated in the semifinals in the previous two campaigns. Canton led by as many as nine points against Valley Regional from Deep River but tough defense in the fourth quarter helped Valley beat Canton, 43-37.Continue Reading

Medeiros came to Canton with plenty of coaching experience

Canton's second-year coach Brian Medeiros talks to the Warriors during a recent contest.

Canton’s second-year coach Brian Medeiros talks to the Warriors during a recent contest.

Ken Lipshez of the Meriden Record Journal interviewed and profiled Canton High’s second-year girls basketball coach Brian Medeiros, 30. He is one of the many high school and collegiate coaches around the state that have come from the Connecticut Starters, a cutting-edge AAU organization that has been a hallmark for girls basketball since 1988. 

“Brian’s laid-back style and low-key manner really hides what is a very competitive coach,” said Cheshire High coach Joe Ticotsky, one of the founding fathers of Connecticut Starters. “He is probably one of the best in-game and end-of-game strategic coaches I’ve ever been around.” Read more about Medeiros, his basketball background and how he ended up in Canton.

Strassner wins 2nd state title in 200 free, helps Avon finish sixth in Class M

Avon's Riley Strassner won the 200 yard freestyle at the Class M championships for the second straight year Wednesday night.

Avon’s Riley Strassner won the 200 yard freestyle at the Class M championships for the second straight year Wednesday night.

MIDDLETOWN, March 18 – Avon junior Riley Strassner won his second consecutive Class M championship Wednesday night leading from start to finish in the 200-yard freestyle at Wesleyan. Strassner also took second in the 100 freestyle and swam on Avon’s 400 freestyle relay team that took fourth and qualified for Saturday’s State Open championships.

Strassner helped the Falcons finish sixth in Class M – their highest finish ever in Class M. Avon set a new school record for most points scored at a CIAC state championship meet with 286 points. Brookfield dominated as they won the Class M title with 703 points. Notre Dame-West Haven was second with 466.

Strassner led the 200 freestyle from start to finish and beat Brookfield’s Rory Collins by a whopping 3.10 seconds. The race was a bit closer in the 100 freestyle where Strassner lost to Middletown’s Doherty by 1.4 seconds. Strassner swam a 47.45 in the event.Continue Reading

Canton’s Benedetti and St. Francis top Robert Morris, earn bid to NCAA tourney

Canton's Sarah Benedetti, on the right side of the girls holding the trophy, and her St. Francis Brooklyn teammates won the Northeast Conference title Sunday and a bid to play in the NCAA Division I tournament.

Canton’s Sarah Benedetti, on the right side of the girls holding the trophy, and her St. Francis Brooklyn teammates won the Northeast Conference title Sunday and a bid to play in the NCAA Division I tournament. (Photo courtesy of NEC via Twitter)

Canton’s Sarah Benedetti is going to the NCAA Division I tournament.

The senior forward at St. Francis-Brooklyn had a career-high 29 points and was named the most valuable player of the 2015 Northeast Conference tournament as the Terriers beat Robert Morris, 77-62 Sunday to win the NEC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

A year ago, St. Francis won a school-record 19 games. Hopes were high this season for another outstanding season. But the Terriers struggled to win ball games. Even with five wins in the final six games, St. Francis entered the post-season with a 12-18 record (9-9 NEC). Continue Reading

Huskies refuse to go away, beat Tulsa with improbable rally

HARTFORD, March 14 – The University of Connecticut men’s basketball team continues to pull off amazing comebacks. With its offense looking sluggish for most of the game, the Huskies overcame a 10-point deficit and outscored Tulsa 14-1 in the final 3:30 to earn a 47-42 semifinal victory at the XL Center and return to the AAC Tournament title game for the second straight year. 

UConn will meet No. 20 SMU Sunday at 3:15 p.m. with a NCAA Tournament berth on the line for Connecticut. They need to win to earn an invitation to the big dance. “It’s a scenario where we lose and we don’t get a bid,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said. “You know, we feel not the pressure, but we feel the opportunity.” Continue Reading

Canton stops Notre Dame Fairfield to earn berth in first state final since 1999

The Canton High girls basketball celebrates after beating Notre Dame Fairfield Friday night and earn a berth in the Class S championship game.

The Canton High girls basketball celebrates after beating Notre Dame Fairfield Friday night and earn a berth in the Class S championship game.

WATERBURY, March 13 – The hard lessons that the Canton High girls basketball team learned during a challenging eight-game stretch in February didn’t go to waste. After winning their first 15 games of the season, Canton went 4-4 in the final five games of the regular season and three games in the NCCC Tournament. 

On Friday night, the Warriors began their semifinal game with No. 5 Notre Dame-Fairfield strongly grabbing an eight-point lead in the first quarter. And when the game got difficult, the Warriors didn’t buckle. 

Top-ranked Canton (22-4) outscored the Lancers 12-2 in the final 2:15 of the game to break open a tie game and earn a spot in the Class S championship game for the first time since 1999 with a 52-42 win at Wilby High. 

It’s just the third appearance ever for the Warriors in the final and Canton will face defending champion Thomaston, which is making its third consecutive trip to the Mohegan Sun Arena and the title game. The championship game is either Friday or Saturday. 

Junior Emily Briggs led Canton with a game-high 20 points, including a six-point outburst in the third quarter that turned a three-point deficit into a three-point Canton lead. And teammate Emma Charron scored her only basket of the game on a beautiful feed from Briggs to extend the lead to five points. Continue Reading

LeDuc to be honored as state athlete of the year at Gold Key dinner

Canton's Mike LeDuc races in the steeplechase at the NCAA Div. III championship meet in May.

Canton’s Mike LeDuc won the first of two NCAA Div. 3 national titles in the steeplechase in May 2013.

Canton native Michael LeDuc hasn’t raced in a while. But his exploits on the track at Connecticut College aren’t being forgotten.

LeDuc has been named as the Bill Lee Athlete of the Year by the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance and will be recognized at the CWSA’s 74th annual Gold Key dinner on April 26, at 4 p.m. in Southington. 

Regarded as one of the highest sports awards in the state, the Gold Key has been awarded by the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance since 1940, recognized individuals from the state who have achieved excellence on the youth, high school, collegiate and professional levels. Past recipients of the Gold Key include Connie Mack (1940), Willie Pep (1961), Walt Dropo (1975), President George H.W. Bush (1991), Gordie Howe (1992), Geno Auriemma (2001), Jim Calhoun (2003), Kristine Lilly (2012) and Amby Burfoot (2014). 

This year, Gold Keys will be presented to former professional hockey player Craig Janney of Enfield, former Killingly and Providence basketball standout Tracy Lis, former Derby High and Yale running back John Pagliaro and longtime FCIAC official and coach John Kuczo. 

In 2014, LeDuc capped off an impressive running career at Connecticut College with his second straight national championship in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, winning by nearly eight seconds. It was a spectacular conclusion to a senior season with the Camels that saw LeDuc win a national title in cross country and earn All-American honors in two events in indoor track.Continue Reading

Undefeated Farmington pulls away from Avon to move to Class L semifinals

Avon's Olivia Welter shoots over a defender in  Monday night's Class L quarterfinal game against Farmington.

Avon’s Olivia Welter shoots over a defender in Monday night’s Class L quarterfinal game against Farmington.

FARMINGTON – The undefeated Farmington High girls basketball looked sharp Monday night in the Class L quarterfinal. At one point, visiting Avon was within two points of the Indians with 5:36 remaining in the third quarter.

But Farmington, the top-ranked team in Class L and the No. 2 ranked team in the latest coaches poll, exploded for 11 consecutive points and 18 of the next 23 in the contest to pull away from No. 8 Avon in a 78-54 victory.

Hannah Friend was outstanding for the Indians (26-0) with a game-high 35 points and five 3-point shots. But she got plenty of help from teammates Sophie Borg with 18 points and Cheray Saunders with 12. The Indians moved the ball with precision and deadly accuracy in the second half as they turned a two-point game into a blowout.

Abby Laszewski had 14 of her team-high 18 points in the first half for Avon, focusing Farmington to play more attention to the 6-foot-4 junior in the second half. The Indians rebounded better and wore down the Falcons (20-5), who were without two players. Guards Kaleigh Sherman and Kelly LaMarre suffered injuries in the last week to take them off the floor.Continue Reading