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Simsbury tops Farmington to advance to semifinals for first time

Katie Perlitz, right, played strong defense in Simsbury’s Class L tournament victory over Farmington on Tuesday night. This photo is from December when masks were required to be worn in games.

Strong defensive efforts have been carrying the Simsbury High girls basketball team all season. On Tuesday night, it helped lift the Trojans into the semifinals of the state tournament for the first time in team history.

No. 2 seed Simsbury gave up just six points in the first half and limited No. 10 Farmington to 29 points in a 36-29 victory in the Class L quarterfinals at Simsbury. The victory enables the Trojans (21-3) to move one win away from the state championship game.

Simsbury will face No. 3 seed Notre Dame-Fairfield (21-3) on Monday at a neutral location with a trip to the Mohegan Sun Arena and the Class L championship game on the line.

“We were really strong on both ends of the floor in the first half,” Simsbury coach Sam Zullo said. “(Simsbury’s) Katie Perliz held (Farmington’s) leading scorer (Daria Fournier) to three points. (Perlitz) was relentless on defense all night long.”

Simsbury led 10-0 after one quarter and 22-6 at halftime.

“We moved the ball well on offense and everyone was very disciplined on their defensive roles in the first half,” Zullo said.

Farmington (15-9) played better in the third quarter and cut the lead to 10 points, 24-14 thanks to an 8-2 surge. “They came out with a lot of energy, made some shots and made a couple offensive adjustments that were successful,” Zullo said. “We continued to get all the shots we wanted, unfortunately we went cold for a few minutes.”

Simsbury, who have won 10 of their last 11 games, adjusted and rode out the storm.

“Our kids locked back in on defense about midway through the third and defended their new stuff very well,” Zullo said. “And we started to make some shots.  Lauren Sabia and Faye Kaplinski put us on their backs and took it home for us down the stretch.”

Sabia had a game-high 21 points, including four three-point goals, to lead Simsbury with Kaplinski chipping with eight points.

Avery Anderson, Sarah Bertolette and Brooke Jones had six points each to lead Farmington.

Now, Simsbury gets to turn their focus toward Notre Dame-Fairfield, a 57-41 winner over Pomperaug on Tuesday night in another Class L quarterfinal. The Lancers have been ranked in the GameTimeCT top 10 girls basketball poll for most of the season. Notre Dame and Holy Cross were tied for the No. 1 spot in the latest poll.

The Lancers are looking for their first trip to the state title game since 2016 while Simsbury will be shooting for their first-ever appearance in a CIAC title game.

Simsbury advanced as far as the quarterfinals in 2018, 2006, 2001 and 2000.

Simsbury 36, Farmington 29
At Simsbury
Farmington (29) Daria Fournier 1 1 3, Mackensie Cambell 1 1 3, Brooke Jones 2 2 6,  Suzy Scheer 1 0 3, Abby Finn 1 0 2, Sarah Bertolette, 3 0 6, Avery Anderson 2 2 6. Totals 11 6 29
Simsbury (36) Lauren Sabia 8 1 21, Katie Perlitz 0 0 0, Olivia Jarvis 1 2 4, Amanda Gallagher 1 0 3, Faye Kaplinski 4 0 8. Totals 14 3 36
Farmington (15-9)          0    6  13  10  — 29
Simsbury (21-3)             10  12    6    8  — 36
Three-point goals: Scheer (F), Sabia (S) 4, Gallagher (S)

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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