WEST HARTFORD, March 8, 2021 – Two defensive-minded girls basketball teams hit the hardwood in West Hartford in a CCC Region A contest on Monday night.
Simsbury and Conard combined to score just 17 points in the first half as the Trojans scored two baskets in the final minute of the second quarter to take a one-point lead at halftime.
But in the second half, Simsbury’s leading scorer Lauren Sabia drained a pair of three-point goals early in the third quarter to give the Trojans some breathing room to help Simsbury win their eighth straight game with a 30-17 victory over Conard.
The win leaves Simsbury (8-1) a half game ahead of Windsor (7-1) in CCC Region A with three games left in this pandemic-shortened season. Conard (6-3) lost to Simsbury for the second time this season.
Simsbury has their eye on being one of the eight top teams in the Central Connecticut Conference and earn a spot in the tournament to play for the league championship.
Senior Mary McElroy led Simsbury with a game-high 13 points while Sabia added seven. Conard, which had a season-low 17 points, was led by Azaiyah Feldon with a team-high 11 points.
“We played a more defensive lineup to try and contain Feldon,” Simsbury High coach Sam Zullo said. “To hold a player averaging 30 points a game to six (on February 24) and 11 points is (great). It’s not like she wasn’t trying to score. It was just a complete team effort. No one person can guard her.”
Simsbury’s Ellie McElroy, Faye Kaplinski and Katie Perlitz spent much of the game guarding Feldon. They would double and triple-team Feldon. “We were asking them to super human stuff,” Zullo said. “Double-team (Feldon) at half court and then sprint back to the middle of the lane and find someone so they don’t get open.”
Conard’s defense was stifling, too. An aggressive man-to-man defense created plenty of turnovers and limited Simsbury’s ability to get shots up – especially in the first half.
“Credit to (Conard head coach) Laurie Cersosimo and Conard,” Zullo said. “They had a good defensive plan last time and a really good defensive plan this time as well. They took away some of our better player’s tendencies and did a really good job.”
Conard had a 4-2 lead after one quarter and all four points came off turnovers and Feldon baskets on the break. The Chieftains had an 8-4 lead with 5:54 left in the second quarter but couldn’t extend it.
Two drives to the basket by Mary McElroy in the final 1:09 gave Simsbury their first lead of the game at 9-8. McElroy scored with 1.1 seconds left to close out the second quarter.
Sabia drained a pair of three-point shots in the first 2:15 of the third quarter to give Simsbury an eight-point lead, 16-8. Conard cut the lead to three, 16-13, when Feldon drained a three-point shot and stole an inbounds pass under the Conard basket and scored with 3:05 left in the third quarter.
But Sabia hit a pair of foul shots and Kathleen Sullivan sank her only basket of the game – a three-point shot with 1:20 left in the third quarter – to allow Simsbury to extend their lead to eight, 21-13.
Conard’s Sophia Lynch scored a basket in the lane with 6:10 remaining to cut the lead to six points, 22-16 but that was the final field goal of the game for the Chieftains.
Simsbury returns to action Thursday night when they host Northwest Catholic (2-4) beginning at 7 p.m.
Simsbury 30, Conard 17
At West Hartford
Simsbury (30) Mary McElroy 4 5-7 13, Katie Perlitz 1 1-2 3, Lauren Sabia 2 2-2 7, Ellie McElroy 0-0-0, Faye Kaplinski 0 1-2 1, Reece Williston 0-0-0, Amanda Gallagher 0 1-2 1, Kathleen Sullivan 1-0-3. Totals 9 10-15 30
Conard (17) Emily Santiago 0-0-0, Sophia Lynch 1-0-2, Tatiana Harrison 1-0-2, Shea McCann 1 0-1 2, Azaiyah Feldon 4 2-8 11, Morgan Dorsey 0-0-0, Emma Main 0-0-0. Totals 7 2-9 17
Simsbury (8-1) 2 7 11 10 — 30
Conard (6-3) 4 4 6 3 — 17
Three-point goals: Sabia (S), Sullivan (S), Feldon (Co)
2021 CCC Region A girls basketball