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Fourth quarter surge carries Avon past Bolton in NCCC Tournament final – The Collinsville Press
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Fourth quarter surge carries Avon past Bolton in NCCC Tournament final

The Avon High girls basketball celebrates winning the NCCC Tournament and Anna Schrecengost scoring over 1,000 career points.

The Avon High girls basketball celebrates winning the NCCC Tournament and Anna Schrecengost scoring over 1,000 career points.

WINDSOR LOCKS – It took three quarters for the Avon High girls basketball to find a way to pull away from Bolton in Thursday’s NCCC Tournament championship game.

Through three quarters, Avon had just a slim two-point lead over the Bulldogs and had scored just 24 points.

However in the fourth quarter, Avon displayed the grit and determination that allowed the Falcons to win the league championship this winter. Avon held Bolton to just four points in the fourth quarter and ripped off 16 straight points in a 42-26 victory Thursday night that gave Avon its first NCCC Tournament title since 2010.

Tournament MVP Abby Laszewski scored eight of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Anna Schrecengost had six of her 12 points in the final eight minutes including her 1,000th career point that brought a huge roar from the Falcons bench.

Bolton’s zone defense and strong rebounding kept Avon at bay for three quarters. A three-point play from Bolton’s Crystal Zimmerman with 25 seconds left in the third quarter cut the Avon lead to two, 24-22. Avon led by three, 26-23 with 6:06 remaining in the game after Marissa Guadauskas sank a free throw.

Avon's Olivia Welter plays tight defense on Bolton's Molly Belekewicz.

Avon’s Olivia Welter plays tight defense on Bolton’s Molly Belekewicz.

But Avon (21-2) went to the glass to seize control of the game. Junior Olivia Welter (11 points) went strong to the glass for a rebound and scored to extend the lead to five, 28-23. On Avon’s next possession, Laszewski grabbed a rebound and scored for a 30-23 advantage.

With 4:54 remaining in the game, Welter sank the first of two free throws to extend the lead to eight. She missed the second free throw and Laszewski grabbed the rebound. Between two defenders, she put up two shots and missed. On her third try, she scored to give the Falcons a 33-23 lead.

“Abby took over in the fourth quarter,” Bolton coach Wayne Hapgood said. “We did a good job on controlling her (for three quarters). They were the No. 1 team in the league for a reason.”

“In the last four or five minutes, we showed some good patience and Abby got it going inside,” Avon coach Frank Waters said. “She is a special kid.”

Leading by 10, Laszewski scored twice off of missed shots to build the lead. With 2:22 remaining, Schrecengost stole the ball and laid it up to move within one point of 1,000 points. She sank two foul shots with 1:37 remaining to earn the career milestone.

Schrecengost, a three-time All-NCCC guard, is the fourth girls player in school history to score over 1,000 career points and the first since Lindsay Horbatuck in 2009.

“It was a good defensive game,” Schrecengost said. “It was tough to score. They kind of caught us off guard a bit. But we came together. We calmed down and got the job done.”

It was much nicer finish for Avon than last year’s NCCC Tournament final loss to Ellington with Schrecengost, Laszewski and Welter all sitting out with injuries.

“It’s awesome,” Laszewski said. “I’m so proud of our team. Everyone pulled together.”

Avon led from the beginning. Welter scored off the opening tip and the Falcons had two blocks and a steal on Bolton’s first five possessions. The other possessions ended with shots off the backboard.

“I think we played very well defensively the entire game,” Waters said. “To hold that team to 26 points is a significant achievement.”

Avon scored the first eight points of the game but couldn’t build on its lead. Avon led 12-6 after one quarter and 18-11 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Bolton (18-3) held Avon scoreless for nearly four minutes and cut the lead to two, 18-16. Laszewski scored in the low post to extend the lead to four but Bolton cut the lead to two by the end of the quarter.

Bolton sophomore Jessica Larsh was fearless in her drives into the lane. She scored a team-high seven points. The Bulldogs were slowed by poor foul shooting, missing nine of 16 shots.

Laszewski and Schrecengost were named to the All-Tournament team along with Larsh and Gauadauskas. For Avon, it was their 11th NCCC Tournament championship. Bolton was making its first-ever appearance in the final.

Avon 42, Bolton 26
At Windsor Locks
Bolton (23) Jessica Larsh 1 5-9 7, Rose Zimmerman 1-0-3, Casey Westerman 0-0-0, Molly Belekewicz 1 0-4 3, Marissa Guadauskas 1 1-2 4, Crystal Zimmerman 2 1-1 5, Sarah Marshall 2-0-4. Totals 8 7-16 26.
Avon (42) Anna Schrecengost 4 4-4 12, Abigal Laszewski 8 1-1 17, Oliva Welter 4 3-8 11, Alex Benedict 0 2-2 2, Kaleigh Sherman 0-0-0, Madison Mains 0-0-0, Lauren Miller 0-0-0, Michaela Marcus 0-0-0. Totals 16 10-15 42
Bolton (18-3)      6  5  11  4 — 26
Avon (21-2)      12  6  6  18 – 42
Three-point goals: R. Zimmerman (B), Belekewicz (B)

Ellington 49, Suffield 38
WINDSOR LOCKS – Three times in the fourth quarter, Suffield cut the lead to one but the Wildcats couldn’t over the hump as Ellington prevailed in the NCCC Tournament consolation game, 49-38. After Suffield cut the lead to one with 4:36 remaining on a pair of foul shots from Adrianna Flagg, Ellington scored 10 unanswered points to take control of the game. Suffield didn’t score another point.

All-NCCC forward Karlee Alves led the Knights with a game-high 22 points including 10 points in the decisive fourth quarter. Cassandra Holmes added six. For Suffield, All-NCCC forward Meredith Ouellette scored a team-high 16 points while Tashua Sotil added nine points.

Ellington 49, Suffield 38
At Windsor Locks
Suffield (38) Robin Nadeau 1-0-2, Katelyn Corr 1-1-3, Tashua Sotil 1-7-9, Katrina Rizzuto 0-0-0, Adrianna Flagg 2-2-6, Meredith Ouellette 4-8-16, Laura Somerville 0-0-0, Erin Sheridan 1-0-2. Totals 10-18-38
Ellington (49) Gwendolyn Paseka 0-2-2, Devonney Waters 2-0-4, Cassandra Holmes 3-0-6, Caitlyn Gresch 1-0-2, Kimberly McCoy 1-3-5, Karlee Alves 9-2-22, Shannon Maguire 1-2-4, Madison Lemire 2-0-4. Totals 18-7-49
Suffield          6    8  14  10 – 38
Ellington      10  11  10  16 – 49
Three-point goals: none

All-NCCC selections
Avon – Shannon Curry, Abby Laszewski, Anna Schrecengost, Olivia Welter; Bolton – Marissa Guduaskas; Canton – Maggie Treacy; East Windsor – Madison Carlous, Melissa Wabble; Ellington – Karlee Alves; Granby – Julia Mazzotta; Somers – Hailee Stetson; Suffield – Meredith Ouellette, Tashua Sotil; Windsor Locks – Dominique Boyd

All-Tournament team
Karlee Alves, Ellington; Meredith Ouellette, Suffield; Marissa Guadauskas, Bolton; Jessica Larsh, Bolton, Anna Schrecengost, Avon; Abby Laszewski, Avon (tournament MVP)

2014 NCCC Tournament
Championship
Avon 43, Bolton 26
Consolation
Ellington 49, Suffield 38
Semifinals
Avon 50, Suffield 41
Bolton 61, Ellington 42
Quarterfinals
Avon 66, Windsor Locks 42
Ellington 52, Canton 47
Bolton 43, Granby 32
Suffield 28, East Windsor 23
Qualifying
Windsor Locks 48, Enfield 45

NCCC regular season standings: Avon 16-0, Bolton 13-3, Ellington 12-4, Suffield 11-5, East Windsor 11-5, Canton 11-5, Granby 9-7, Windsor Locks 9-7, Enfield 7-9, Coventry 4-12, Somers 3-13, SMSA 3-13, East Granby 1-15, Stafford 0-16

 

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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