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Canton shows grit, toughness in loss to Bolton and in win over East Granby

Sophia Mates had 18 points and 18 rebounds in a win over East Granby on Wednesday. She had 13 points in a loss to NCCC champion Bolton on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Bill Brewster)

CANTON, Feb. 11, 2023 – The Canton High girls basketball team is showing the kind of grit and resolve they will need if they are going to win post-season contests.

Earlier this week, the Warriors erased a 16-point deficit and limited East Granby to seven points in the second half to beat the Crusaders, 45-37. On Saturday, Canton erased an 11-point deficit to take the lead against NCCC champion Bolton but the Bulldogs outscored the Warriors 7-2 in the final 1:06 of the game to earn a 39-34 victory.

“We had an opportunity to celebrate our seniors (Saturday) and play a really good Bolton team,” Canton head coach Brian Medeiros said. “The girls responded after a slow start to give themselves a chance to pull off the upset. We were one or two plays away from doing that but credit to Bolton for hanging in there and making the plays down the stretch.”

The game was tied at 32-32 late in the fourth quarter until Bolton’s Niyah Islam hit a three-point shot in the corner with 1:06 remaining to give the Bulldogs a 35-32 lead. Canton’s Sam Yanke made two free throws to cut the lead to one, 35-34 but Bolton made four of five free throws in the final minute to secure the victory.

It is the first league championship for Bolton (18-1, 12-0 NCCC) since 2010.

Bolton raced out to an early 13-2 lead before Canton settled down in the second quarter, limiting the Bulldogs to just six points and cutting the lead to eight at the half, 19-11.

Medeiros said the third quarter may have been the team’s quarter of the year. Canton outscored Bolton, 13-4 to take a 24-23 lead after three quarters. Avery Miller and Yanke set the tone defensively as they didn’t allow much room for the Bolton shooters to operate.

Sophia Mates scored six of her team-high 13 points in the quarter with Gabby DelSanto and Avery Brown hitting big three-point shots in the quarter. Brown finished with 12 points in the game.

It was the final regular season game for both teams, who will be playing in the NCCC Tournament that begins Wednesday. Canton (9-11, 5-7 NCCC) will host Rockville in a first round contest beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“On Wednesday, we have the opportunity to build on our strong play of late,” Medieros said. “If we play well and I hope we do, we will have our chance at redemption against Bolton on Friday.”

On Wednesday, East Granby (3-15) was outstanding in the first half, racing out to an early 15-2 lead. The Crusaders shot 9-of-14 (69 percent) from the floor in the first quarter.

East Granby extended the lead to 16 points with 5:05 left in the first half, 27-11. A key three-shot from Brown and Madisyn Reardon scoring four points in a span of a few minutes helped Canton to cut the lead to 32-22 at halftime.

Defensive energy sparked the Warriors in the second half led by Yanke and Miller. Canton opened up the quarter with a 10-2 run with eight points from Mates. Canton gave up just four points in the third quarter as the Warriors sliced the lead to four, 36-32 after three quarters.

Due to great passing from DelSanto and Miller, East Granby began playing a zone defense which opened up space for Brown to hit back-to-back three point shots to give Canton their first lead of the game with 4:32 remaining, 38-36.

Canton held East Granby scoreless over the first 7:45 of the final quarter and allowed just two field goals in the second half.

Mates led the way with 18 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Brown had 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. Reardon had six points and pulled down seven rebounds.

Bolton 39, Canton 34
At Canton
Bolton (39)
Emma Diehl 5-0-10, Niva Islam 3 2-4 9, Isabel Kennedy 2-0-5, Riley Graves 1-0-3, Julia Zimmerman 3 2-3 8, Makenna Graves 1 1-2 4, Totals: 15 5-9 39
Canton (34) Sophia Mates 5 3-5 13, Avery Brown 3 4-5 12, Gabby DelSanto 1-0-3, Avery Miller 0 1-2 1, Sam Yanke 1 3-4 5, Madisyn Reardon 0-0-0, Brooke Czerwinski 0-0-0. Totals: 10 11-16 34
Bolton (18-1)        13  6  4  16  — 39
Canton (9-11)       4  7  13  10  — 36
Three-point goals: Islam (B), Kennedy (B), Graves (B), A. Brown (Ca) 2, DelSanto (C)

Canton 45, East Granby 37
At East Granby
Canton (45) Sophia Mates 8 2-3 18, Avery Brown 5 2-4 15, Madisyn Reardon 2 2-4 6, Sam Yanke 1-0-3, Avery Miller 0 2-2 2, Brooke Czerwiński 0-0-0, Totals: 18 9-15 45
East Granby (37) Melina Betts 4-0-10, Megan Benner 2-0-4,Ava Guyer 4 0-4 11, Ava Walsh 1-0-2, Tamia Hewitt 4-0-8, Julia Walsh 1-0-2, Totals: 15 2-9 37
Canton (9-10)                      9  13  10  13  — 45
East Granby (3-15)           21  11    4    1  — 37
Three-point goals: Brown (Ca) 3, Yanke (Ca), Betts (EG) 2, Guyer (EG) 3

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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