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Canton tops Suffield for third straight win, secures state tournament bid

Canton’s Jenna Cuniowski, left, had a game-high 16 points as the Warriors beat Suffield on Thursday night to secure a bid to the state tournament.

CANTON, Feb. 4, 2022 – It’s been a long climb back for the Canton High girls basketball team.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Warriors got off to a tough start playing shorthanded with athletes missing time – practice and games — due to contact tracing and positive tests. The squad took two weeks off around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays because they didn’t have enough healthy players to hold a practice.

The climb isn’t complete yet, but a .500 record is now in sight. The Warriors are two games under .500 after winning their third straight game on Thursday with a 41-33 win over Suffield in Canton. On Tuesday, Canton had one of their more lopsided contests of the season with a 60-25 victory over Sport Medicine Science Academy in Hartford.

Canton improved to 6-8 on the year and 6-2 in the NCCC. The victory over Suffield secured a berth in the CIAC Class S tournament and the NCCC Tournament for the Warriors.

“It was a nice week for the girls, especially to cap it off with a win against Suffield, a team who beat us three times last year,” Canton High coach Brian Medeiros said. “We are definitely making strides in the right direction, I’m not sure if we close this game out a couple weeks ago, so it was really nice to see us play well and pull away down the stretch.

On Thursday night against Suffield, the Warriors got off to a strong start, allowing just three points in the first quarter to take a 9-3 lead after 10 minutes. Sophia Mates, Gabby DelSanto, Jenna Cuniowski and Sam Yanke scored for the Warriors.

Suffield tied the game at 13-13 in the second quarter just before Avery Miller’s mid range jumper gave Canton back the lead right before halftime.

In the third quarter, Canton’s full court defense forced multiple Suffield turnovers, which helped the Warriors race out to a 24-17 advantage. Suffield tied the game with a 7-0 run before Canton closed out the third quarter with a 5-0 surge thanks to a layup from Ashelyn Cebollero and Avery Brown’s three-point dagger from the corner just before the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter.

Suffield did the cut the lead to one, 30-29, thanks to a four-point play from Livy Johnson. But that was as close as the Wildcats (6-7, 2-6 NCCC) would get. Canton closed out the game with an 11-3 surge. Jenna Cuniowski had two big baskets and was 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final quarter.

Cuniowski had a team-high 16 points to lead Canton while Sophia Mates added 11.

Against SMSA, Cuniowski scored 18 of Canton’s first 21 points to lead the Warriors. Canton got great contributions from 11 players, including nine who scored points in the victory.

Canton’s game against HMTCA on Friday night was postponed until Monday, Feb. 14 at 5 p.m.

It will be another busy week for the Warriors next week with four games against Somers (Monday), Ellington (Tuesday), East Granby (Friday) and Cromwell (Saturday).

NOTE: To qualify for the CIAC state tournaments, team need to win at least 30 percent of their games. To secure a spot in the NCCC league tournament, teams need to qualify for the state tournament. … Last week, Gabby DelSanto had a career-high 19 points in a 54-39 win over Stafford. On January 19, Sophia Mates had a career-high 20 in a 60-52 loss to Sheehan.

Canton 41, Suffield 33
At Canton
Suffield (33) Jordan Dion 2 2-2 7, Lexi Mailloux 2-0-5, Cami Bosco 4-0-8, Ava Toomey 1-0-2, Livy Johnson 3 2-5 11, Totals: 12 4-7 33
Canton (41) Sophia Mates 3 5-6 11, Jenna Cuniowski 6 4-4 16, Avery Brown 1 2-2 5, Ashelyn Cebollero 1-0-2, Gabby DelSanto 2-0-4, Sam Yanke 1 2-2 4, Avery Miller 2-0-4, Rachel Renaud 0-0-0, Hannah Webb 0-0-0, Juliana Cavanough 0-0-0, Payton Nitzchke 0-0-0. Totals: 13 14-16 41
Suffield (6-7)                 3  10  11    9  — 33
Canton (6-8)                 9    6  14  12  — 41
Three-point goals: Dion (S), Mailloux (S), Johnson (S) 3, A. Brown (C)

Canton 60, SMSA 25
At Hartford
Canton (60) Sophia Mates 5 1-2 11, Jenna Cuniowski 10 4-4 26, Avery Brown 1-0-2, Ashelyn Cebollero 1-0-2, Rachel Renaud 2-0-5, Gabby DelSanto 2-0-4, Avery Miller 2-0-4, Madisyn Reardon 1 0-2 2, Hannah Webb 2 0-2 4, Juliana Cavanough 0-0-0, Payton Nitzchke 0-0-0. Totals 26 5-10 60
SMSA (25) Aniya Encarnacion 3-0-7, Edita Hamazbegovic 1-0-2, Aiyana Brown 4 2-2 10, Charis Krevalin 2-0-4, Nairoby Hiraldo 1-0-2. Totals 11 2-2 25
Canton (5-8)     21  16  12  11  — 60
SMSA (2-10)     9  3  4  7  — 25
Three-point goals: Cuniowski (C) 2, Renaud (C), Encarnacion (S)

NCCC girls basketball, as of Feb. 4

Team NCCC Overall
Granby 8-0 12-3
Somers 6-1 10-3
Ellington 7-2 7-6
Coventry 7-2 11-3
Bolton 6-2 9-3
Canton 6-2 6-8
Windsor Locks 5-3 8-5
Stafford 3-5 8-5
East Windsor 3-6 5-9
Suffield 2-6 6-7
East Granby 2-6 4-9
Rockville 2-7 3-13
SMSA 1-7 2-11
HMTCA 0-8 3-11


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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