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Avon girls end NCCC era with another championship

The Avon High girls basketball is all smiles after winning the NCCC Tournament championship Thursday.

The Avon High girls basketball is all smiles after winning the NCCC Tournament championship Thursday.

HARTFORD, February 26 – In their final game as a member of the North Central Connecticut Conference, the Avon High girls basketball team wanted to go out with a victory. 

The Falcons, who shared the league championship with Canton, won their 12th NCCC Tournament title Thursday night with a 60-46 win over Bolton at Sport Medicine Science Academy. It was sweet revenge for Avon, which coughed up a 13-point lead in a regular season loss at home to the Bulldogs. 

“We wanted to play Bolton,” said Avon senior Shannon Curry, the tournament’s most valuable player. “We all wanted to play Bolton. We wanted another stab at them. And we got them.” 

Canton erased a 10-point deficit against Enfield and tied the game for the first time with 18.7 seconds remaining but Raider freshman Mary Baskerville scored in the lane with 1.7 seconds left to lift Enfield to a 56-54 win over the Warriors in the tournament consolation game.

Curry had a game-high 19 points, including 13 points in the fourth quarter to spark the Falcons. Avon led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter but Bolton (19-4) had cut the lead to five as the fourth quarter began. Curry started the quarter with a steal and ran the length of the floor for a layup. On Avon’s next possession, she drove to the basket and scored off a nice feed from Michaela Marcus. 

Avon's Shannon Curry goes to the basket as Bolton's Sydney Mitchell, left and Molly Belekewicz defend.

Avon’s Shannon Curry goes to the basket as Bolton’s Sydney Marshall, left and Molly Belekewicz defend.

Then, Curry stole the ball again and drove to the basket for an uncontested layup and in a little over a minute, the Avon lead ballooned to 11 points again. 

“What you need to do is sag off so they think that they’re open and right as they pass, you go and get (the ball),” Curry said. “I watched, waited and got it. It’s sort of a cat-and-mouse thing.” Curry had three steals and layups off those steals. 

Avon’s 6-foot-3 junior center Abby Laszewski continued her comeback after missing 18 games with a foot injury suffered at the end of the volleyball season. She scored 17 points. Guard Michaela Marcus added 12 and Olivia Welter scored nine for the Falcons (19-4).

“I don’t think we were ready to play in the beginning,” Curry said. “We didn’t have that intensity right away. Late in the second quarter, we realized we had to pick it up. We can’t have them come back from a 13-point lead and beat us again.” 

Avon coach Frank Waters praised Bolton for their tenacity all over the floor. “I have to give them credit,” he said. “They were undersized but they battled us for every inch. They played great but our kids were tough when they needed to be.” 

The Bulldogs, who lost to Avon in the NCCC Tourney final a year ago, grabbed a quick 8-3 lead in less than a minute and a half to open the game. But Avon went to Laszewski for a basket and Welter with a pair of jump shots to climb back into the game. 

Bolton led by one after one quarter but Avon took the lead for good with a 7-1 run with baskets from Kaleigh Sherman, Welter and Marcus. 

Bolton cut Avon’s lead to four early in the third quarter but the Falcons went on a 9-0 run a basket from Welter, a jump shot from Marcus, a three-point shot from Marcus and a basket inside from Laszewski. 

Four consecutive baskets, including two 3-point goals, from Bolton’s Marissa Gudauskas cut the lead to four. After a Lazewski shot, Jessica Larsh drained a three-point goal to cut the Falcon lead to three points, 41-38 with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. It was as close as Bolton would get. 

“I’m happy with how we played,” Bolton coach Wayne Hapgood said. “We didn’t win but we did a pretty good job.” 

Larsh led Bolton with 19 points while Gudauskas had 16 points including a pair of three-point shots. Larsh and Gudauskas were named to the All-Tournament team along with Lasewski and Curry. 

Avon will be moving to the Central Connecticut Conference next season.

Avon won its 12th NCCC Tournament title. Only Ellington (13) has won more.

Avon won its 12th NCCC Tournament title. Only Ellington (13) has won more.

Enfield's Mary Baskerville sinks the game-winning shot off the glass in the final seconds to beat Canton.

Enfield’s Mary Baskerville sinks the game-winning shot off the glass in the final seconds to beat Canton.

Enfield 56, Canton 54
In the consolation game, Canton (19-4) lost for the third time in the last five games with a basket with 1.7 seconds remaining. Surrounded by three players, Baskerville took a pass and banked the ball in off the glass. The 6-foot-3 freshman finished with a game-high 24 points. 

Enfield (17-6) led by as many as 10 points. The Raiders had a six-point lead with 2:17 remaining but the Warriors continued to fight. Maggie Treacy drained a three-pointer with 1:32 remaining to cut the lead to three. 

Trailing by three with 18.7 seconds left, Treacy stole the ball, took a three-point shot and was fouled. She calmly sank all three to tie the game at 54-54. Treacy, who was named to the All-Tournament team, scored nine points in the final 1:32 of the game. But Enfield won it on Basketville’s basket. 

“Sometimes, people don’t play hard in consolation games but our kids played hard,” Enfield coach Jay Gaucher said. “We had two freshmen (Baskerville, Danielle Delano) who stepped up and made some big plays for us.” 

Delano had 13 points for Enfield, which has won 13 of its last 14 games. Treacy had a team-high 23 points and four three-point shots for Canton while teammate Emily Briggs chipped in with 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Treacy and Gabby Rose had seven rebounds each. 

“The kids don’t quit,” Canton coach Brian Medeiros said. “I can never fault them for a lack of effort. They just play until the final horn.” 

After winning their first 15 games, Canton is 4-4 with two losses to Enfield, a loss to Avon and a loss to Bolton. Medeiros was asked what lessons the Warriors have learned playing the top teams in the league the past two weeks and as they prepare for next week’s Class S tournament opener on Thursday in Canton. 

“You can’t take plays off and you have to have that urgency for 32 minutes, not just eight or 16 minutes,” he said. 

Avon 60, Bolton 46
At Hartford
Bolton (46): Taylor Marshall 0-0-0, Jessica Larsh 5-8-19, Rose Zimmerman 0-0-0, Molly Belekewicz 3-1-9, Marissa Gudauskas 5-3-16, Sydney Marshall 0-0-0, Julia Hinckley 1-0-2. Totals 14-12-46
Avon (60): Michaela Marcus 4-2-12, Alex Benedict 0-1-1, Abby Laszewski 8-1-17, Olivia Welter 4-1-9, Shannon Curry 6-7-19, Kaleigh Sherman 1-0-2, Kelly Lamarre 0-0-0, Carly Carpino 0-0-0. Totals 23-12-60
Bolton (19-4)         14  10  14    8 – 46
Avon (19-4)           13  17  13  17 – 60
Three-point goals: Larsh (B), Belekewicz (B) 2, Gudauskas (B) 3, Marcus (A) 2 

Enfield 56, Canton 54
At Hartford
Enfield (56): Hannah Lempitsky 1-2-4, Christina Leonardo 0-0-0, Taylor Poletti 1-0-2, Caterina Fonseca 1-2-4, Danielle Delano 5-0-13, Mary Baskerville 7-10-24, Regina Leblanc 3-3-9. Totals 18-17-56
Canton (54): Katie Walker 0-0-0, Jacque Grabowski 2-2-6, Emily Briggs 2-11-16, Maggie Treacy 5-9-23, Gabby Rose 4-0-8, Emma Charron 0-0-0, Abbe Skinner 0-0-0, Carly Atkinson 0-0-0. Totals 13-23-54
Enfield (17-6)        20  12  10  14  — 56
Canton (19-4)       14  10  15  15  — 54
Three-point goals: Briggs (C), Treacy (C) 4, Delano (E) 3

2014-15 All-NCCC team
Avon – Shannon Curry, Michaela Marcus, Olivia Welter

Bolton – Marissa Gudauskas, Jessica Larsh
Canton – Maggie Treacy, Emily Briggs
Ellington – Shannon Maguire
Enfield – Mary Baskerville
Granby – Krista Iwanicki, Julie Mazzotta
Suffield – Katelyn Corr, Meredith Ouellette
Windsor Locks – Dominique Boyd, Nichole Johnson 

NCCC regular season standings: Avon and Canton 16-2, Bolton 15-3, Suffield 14-4, Enfield 13-5, Windsor Locks 12-6, Granby 10-8, Ellington 9-9, Hartford Classical 8-10, Coventry 6-12, East Granby and SMSA 5-13, East Windsor 4-14, Stafford and Somers 1-17 

2015 NCCC girls basketball tournament
At Higher seeds
Thursday, Feb. 19
First round
No. 7 Granby 69, No. 10 Coventry 42
No. 8 Ellington 54, No. 9 Hartford Classical 45 

Saturday, Feb. 21
Quarterfinals

No. 1 Avon 58, Ellington 34
No. 5 Enfield 38, No. 4 Suffield 36
No. 2 Canton 58, Granby 48
No. 3 Bolton 55, No. 6 Windsor Locks 46 

Tuesday, February 24
Semifinals

Avon 60, Enfield 45
Bolton 53, Canton 47

Thursday, Feb 26
At SMSA-Hartford
Championship game: Avon 60, Bolton 46
Consolation game: Enfield 56, Canton 54 

All-Tournament team: Abby Laszewski, Avon; Shannon Curry, Avon (MVP); Marissa Gudauskas, Bolton, Jessica Larsh, Bolton, Maggie Treacy, Canton, Mary Baskerville, Enfield, Danielle Delano, Enfield

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.

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