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Girls basketball aiming for state title

CANTON, Feb. 15 – They won’t be seeded high in the CIAC Class S tournament but watch out for the Canton High girls basketball team.

The Warriors entered the final week of the regular season with a 13-6 record. But five losses came during a three-week,eight-game span in December and January when junior All-State forward Sarah Benedetti was on the bench after tearing a ligament in her ankle.

Since Benedetti’s return, Canton (13-6, 11-4 NCCC) has won eight of nine games including a pair of easy victories last week over Stafford, 61-37 and East Windsor, 53-19.

Canton coach Jeanne Holian is looking forward to this weekend’s NCCC Tournament and then to the Class S tournament. “I’m excited about it,” she said. “It is about who is playing the best at this time. Everyone is tired at this point of the season. Who can suck it up and play hard for another three or four weeks?”

While the Benedetti injury was difficult, it did give her teammates time to gain the confidence to score and make big plays. Megan Roux and Sarah Getz aren’t afraid to take the big shot if Benedetti is being smothered defensively.

“We’re not fast breaking as I thought we would be,” Holian said. “I hope our defense will continue to be a strength. And we’re getting scoring from players other than Sarah.”

In the NCCC Tournament, Holian sees no reason why the Warriors can’t be competitive with Ellington, Suffield, Bolton, Coventry and Avon. Earlier this year, Canton beat Ellington for the first time since 2000 and played well in a two-point loss to Bolton that was decided in the final five seconds. And Avon is good but they aren’t the dominant power they have been over the past decade.

In the Class S tournament, Canton will have to deal with contenders from Thomaston, Capital Prep in Hartford, Bolton and St. Paul in Bristol. “Our goal is to win a state championship and we have as good a shot as anyone in the top 10,” Holian said. “It is who is playing on top of their game.”

In games last week, Benedetti had 24 points while Katherine Curvino added 12 and Getz scored 10 in a 61-37 win over Stafford. The Warriors led 32-15 at halftime. Against East Windsor, the Warriors had a 27-4 halftime lead in a 53-19 rout. Benedetti led the way with 20 points while Roux added 12.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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