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Canton dominates SMSA to win first NCCC Tournament crown since 1997

Allie Delsanto, left, Morgan Walzak and Lauren Puglielli are thrilled to bring the NCCC Tournament championship trophy back to their teammates.

CANTON, February 21 – The Canton High girls basketball team had a point to prove Thursday night in the North Central Connecticut Conference tournament final against Hartford’s Sport Medicine Science Academy (SMSA).

A year ago, the Warriors went undefeated in the league only to drop a one-point to decision to East Windsor in the NCCC Tournament final. A week later, as the No. 1 seed in the Class S tournament, the Warriors were sent home by No. 32 Trinity Catholic on a shot at the buzzer.

Canton guard Abby Charron said they were embarrassed by the defeats. “We’re not going to be embarrassed again,” she said.

Charron scored a game-high 21 points, had six assists and six rebounds to lead Canton to a 62-42 victory over SMSA as the Warriors won their first NCCC Tournament championship since 1997. Paige Brown scored 11 points, including a pair of three-point shots, and pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds.

After giving up a three-point shot on SMSA’s first shot of the game, Canton outscored the Tigers 16-5 in the remainder of the first quarter. At one point in the second quarter, the Warriors led by 15 points, 26-9. The lead was never lower than 14 points in the second half for Canton.

“We came out motivated with a purpose,” Canton High coach Brian Medeiros said. “Sometimes, we’re not excited to play games but today you could see the different look in their eyes. You could tell they wanted to win today because it hasn’t been something we’ve been able to do.”

SMSA’s Becca Mayer slaps the ball out of the hands of Canton’s Gabbie Schinkel in Thursday night’s NCCC Tournament championship game.

Canton (22-1) won Class S state championships in 2016 and 2017. A year ago, they finally got to the final of the NCCC Tournament for the first time since 1999 only to lose to East Windsor.

“It was a testament to the girls to play a very good SMSA team and – at times – we were able to do whatever we wanted offensively and defensively,” he said.

SMSA went 17-3 this season and 15-1 in the NCCC. The Tigers beat Northwest Catholic and Greenwich this season.

Canton secured the win without their 6-foot-3 All-NCCC center Sarah Bowman, who missed the last two games because she is on a school trip to Spain.

“Sometimes I think we rely on her too much in terms of defense, blocking shots, rebounding and starting the (fast) break,” Medeiros said. “In the last two games, other kids were forced to rebound, make stops and play better contain defense instead of having a 6-foot-3 kid to protect against your mistakes.”

Outside of Charron and Brown, the Warriors received some balanced scoring. Allison Celmer, Grace Treacy and Allie Delsanto had six points each while Lauren Escenbrenner had four points.

Canton passed the ball well and converted on some nice fast breaks. “There is a lot of joy with this,” Charron said of the victory.

Canton’s Abby Charron (12) scored a game-high 21 points and was named the tournament’s MVP.

SMSA tried to rally. They cut the lead to 13 points late in the second quarter but Charron took a nice pass from Brown and drove to the basket for two points and with 49 seconds left in the half, Brown scored in the lane as Canton took a 30-13 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, SMSA cut the lead to 14 points but Delsanto drained a three-point shot with a minute to go, Escenbrenner drove to the basket for two points with 30 seconds remaining and Charron capped off the quarter with a three-pointer from the top of the key for a 20-point lead, 50-30.

Canton returns to action when they open up the Class S tournament at home on Monday night when they host No. 32 Tourtellotte-Thompson (7-13) at 6 p.m. For the second straight year, the Warriors are the No. 1 seed in the state tournament.

NOTES: This SMSA’s first appearance in the NCCC Tournament championship game. Canton improves to 3-3 in the final. … Charron was named the tournament’s MVP. … Suffield’s Paige Anderson, Ellington’s Sam Curtis, Brown, Charron and SMSA’s Becca Mayer and Kennedy Johnson were named to the All-Tournament team. … Canton’s win over the Tigers was the largest margin of victory in the NCCC final since 2003 when Avon beat Ellington by 33 points, 68-35. … Canton was ranked No. 11 in the latest GameTimeCT top 10 girls basketball poll.

Canton 62, SMSA 42
At Canton
SMSA (42) Kalissa Jameson 2-1-6, Kelsy Reed 1-0-2, Becca Mayer 1-0-2, Desting Barrios 0-0-0, Datari Mathis 0-1-1, Tatiana Stokes 2-4-8, Chyna Jones 4-1-9, Nanie Jones 0-0-0, Kennedi Joseph 4-0-9, Travyana Jefferson 2-1-5. Totals 16 8 42
Canton (62) Lauren Puglielli 1-0-2, Abby Charron 7-5-21, Morgan Walzak 0-0-0, Paige Brown 4-1-11, Allison Celmer 3-0-6, Grace Treacy 2-0-6, Lauren Escenbrenner 2-0-4, Allie Delsanto 2-0-6, Gabbie Schinkel 1-4-6. Totals 22 10-62
SMSA (19-4)                 8  5  17  8  –42
Canton (22-1)              16  14  21  9  — 62
Three point goals: Charron (Ca) 2, Brown (Ca) 2, Treacy (Ca) 2, Delsanto (Ca) 2, Jameson (S), Joseph (S)

2019 NCCC Girls Basketball Tournament
Wednesday, February 13
First round

East Granby 35, Windsor Locks 34
Somers 45, Coventry 25
Ellington 68, Bolton 27

Canton 56, East Granby 31
Suffield 47, East Windsor 23
SMSA 62, Somers 52
Ellington 48, Granby 40
Canton 45, Suffield 27
SMSA 61, Ellington 49
Canton 62, SMSA 42

Recent NCCC Tournament championship games
2018: East Windsor 43, Canton 42
2017: Suffield 53, East Windsor 29
2016: Enfield 48, Bolton 41
2015: Avon 60, Bolton 46
2014: Avon 43, Bolton 26
2013: Ellington 59, Avon 56
2012: Ellington 48, Suffield 45
2011: Ellington 60, East Granby 45
2010: Avon 54, Ellington 47
2009: Avon 33, Tolland 21

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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