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No. 5 Notre Dame-Fairfield is too quick, too strong for Canton

Senior guard Belle Magna had 14 points in Canton’s loss to No. 5 Notre Dame-Fairfield. (Photo courtesy Paul Amrose)

FAIRFIELD, January 20 – The two-time defending Class S champions aren’t taking the easy path. The Canton High girls basketball team isn’t afraid of being challenged.

The Warriors have four non-league games on their schedule and as of this evening, three of those teams have at least 10 wins and are ranked in the top 25 of the latest state coaches poll.

Canton was overwhelmed by No. 5 ranked Notre Dame-Fairfield on Saturday afternoon in a 61-38 defeat. It was the second straight defeat for Canton and the third loss of the season for the Warriors, 9-3 overall and 9-0 in the NCCC.

“We knew were going to have our hands full with Notre Dame,” Canton High coach Brian Medeiros said. “It’s best Notre Dame team I’ve seen in the four years we’ve played (them). They’re a legitimate top 5 team in the state that has all of the components to make the run to the (Mohegan) Sun in Class LL.”

Notre Dame (10-2) outscored Canton, 21-9 in the first quarter and led 33-15 at halftime. They’ll play in the Class LL tournament in March. On Thursday, the Warriors fell to No. 22 Conard-West Hartford, 50-41. The Chieftains will also play in the Class LL tournament.

The only other defeat for the Warriors came at the hands of Avon – who will play in the Class L tournament if they can qualify – in a triple overtime decision.

And Canton finishes the season with a road game on February 12 at Farmington, currently ranked No. 7 in the state coaches poll with a 12-1 record. The Indians will contend for a Class L championship.

Sophomore guard Abby Charron had seven points Saturday against Notre Dame Fairfield. (Photo courtesy Paul Amrose)

“At the end of the day, we’re gaining more than we’re losing by playing teams like Notre Dame and Conard,” Medeiros said. “The goal is to get the girls out of their comfort zones, which we did in both contests. I truly believe it will pay off as we move into the second half of league play in the NCCC.”

Canton (9-3, 9-0 NCCC) is undefeated and in first place in the North Central Connecticut Conference. Bolton (9-3, 8-1 NCCC) and Granby (8-2, 6-1 NCCC) are in second place.

The Warriors take on Bolton Monday night on the road – the first of three games this week. On Wednesday night, Canton hosts East Windsor (9-4, 7-2 NCCC) – another contender in the league.

Against Notre Dame, Gabrielle Joseph had 15 points to lead the winners while Erin Harris added 13 points.

“I thought it took us a little while to settle in and that had to do with the size and speed of Notre Dame,” Medeiros said. “I like how we competed for large portions of the game. Obviously in a game like this, it truly shows all of your weaknesses.

“In the second half, especially in the third quarter, we responded accordingly and cut the deficit to 11 or 12 points behind strong team play,” he said. “Belle Magna had a great game for us and Abby Charron did a very solid job handing the Notre Dame pressure without committing too many turnovers.”

Magna led the Warriors with 14 points while Lauren Eschenbrenner scored eight points. Grace Treacy had six points with a pair of three-point goals.

On Thursday night, Conard (10-2) pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn a 50-41 victory in West Hartford. The Warriors cut the Conard lead to three points after three quarters but couldn’t close the gap. Eschenbrenner led the Warriors with 17 points including five 3-point goals.

Canton began the week with a 58-31 rout over Ellington to improve to 9-0 in the NCCC. Eschenbrenner had 17 points with a pair of three-point goals while Treacy added 10 points.

Notre Dame-Fairfield 61, Canton 38
At Fairfield
Canton (38) Abby Charron 1 0-0 2 Belle Magna 4 6-8 14 Lauren Pugliello 0 2-2 2 Allison Cellmer 2 1-1 5 Grace Tracey 2 0-0 6 Lauren Eschenbrenner 3 2-2 8 Paige Brown 0 1-2 1. Totals: 12 12-15 38
ND Fairfield (61) Gabrielle Joseph 6 3-6 15 Yamani McCullough 4 2-4 10 Erin Harris 5 0-0 13 Brittany Fulton 2 0-0 5 Zuquila Mbachiantim 2 2-2 6 Aliyah Louis 0 0-0 0 Ciara Brown 0 4-6 4 Krystalee Fernandez 1 1-2 3 Mia Dunn 0 1-2 1 Vanessa Joseph 1 0-0 2 Erin O’Brien 1 0-0 2 Brianna Perez 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 13-22 61
Canton (9-3)                       9    8  14   7  — 38
ND-Fairfield (10-2)         21  12  14  14  — 61
Three-point goals: Tracey (C) 2, Harris (ND) 3

Conard 50, Canton 41
At West Hartford
Canton (41) Belle Magna 1 3 5, Allison Celmer 2 0 4, Grace Treacy 3 0 7, Lauren Eschenbrenner 6 0 17, Gabrielle Schinkel 0 1 1, Abby Charron 3 1 7. Totals 15 7 41
Conard (50) Delaney Connors 8 8 25, Azaiyah Felder 1 1 3, Meg Morhardt 2 0 5, Lena Proietti 3 4 9, Abby Capone 2 1 3, Totals 16 14 50
Canton (9-2)        7  10  16  8 – 41
Conard (10-2)    15   9  11  15  — 50
Three-point goals: Treacy (Can), Escenbrenner (Can) 5, Connors (Con), Morhardt (Con)

Canton 58, Ellington 31
At Canton
Ellington (31) Emily Fleury 1 0 2, Sammy Lavey 1 0 3, Liz Marques 2 0 4, Lindsey Laughlan 0 1 1, Haley Foxe 4 0 8, Kaitlyn Weber 1 0 2, Katie Bartlett 1 1 3, Payten Walters 3 0 8. Totals 13 2 31
Canton (58) Lauren Puglielli 2 0 5, Allison Celmer 0 2 2, Grace Treacy 4 2 10, Lauren Eschenbrenner 6 3 17, Gabrielle Schinkel 1 0 2, Allie DelSanto 1 2 4, Paige Brown 1 0 2, Maggy First 1 0 2, Maeve Balavender 2 2 7, Abby Charron 3 0 7. Totals 21 11 58
Ellington (6-4)      9    6    5  11 – 31
Canton (9-1)        19  11  11  17 – 58
Three-point goals: Lavey (Ell), Walters (Ell) 2, Puglielli (Can), Eschenbrenner (Can) 2, Balavender (Can), Charron (Can)

NCCC standings NCCC Overall
Canton 9-0 9-3
Bolton 8-1 9-3
Granby 6-1 8-2
East Windsor 7-2 9-4
Somers 6-2 9-2
SMSA 6-3 7-4

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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