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Glastonbury rallies to beat Simsbury and win CCC West title

Simsbury’s Amanda Gallagher (32) drives to the basket during Monday night’s CCC West game against Glastonbury. Gallagher scored 15 points in the loss to the Guardians. Julen Astiasaran (15) tries to slow her down.

SIMSBURY, Feb. 13, 2022 – Both teams created plenty of turnovers and made life miserable for ballhandlers on the opposing team with several steals and balls tipped away.

Both teams missed a lot of shots and free throws. The two teams combined to sink just 8 of 23 from the charity stripe. Both teams pulled down a lot of rebounds, leaving the opposition with just a few second chance opportunities.

In the end, it was Glastonbury which made a few more plays and rallied to beat Simsbury, 27-26, on Monday night to win the CCC West championship.

The visiting Guardians received 13 points from Lola Awolfala, who helped the Guardians erase an nine-point Simsbury lead. The Trojans were led by Amanda Gallagher, who had a game-high 15 points, including three 3-point shots.

Glastonbury (17-3, 7-0 CCC West) won their first division title since 2020 when they captured the CCC West Patriot Division title. Simsbury (16-4, 6-1 CCC West) was looking for their first CCC West title since 2000.

Glastonbury’s Maddy Handrahan hit a three-point shot from the top of the lame with 3:38 remaining to put the Guardians in front, 25-24. Simsbury responded with a pair of three throws from Gallagher with 3:31 left to take a 26-25 lead.

Glastonbury regained the lead when Gisel Astisaran drove the baseline to the basket and scored with 3:16 remaining for a 27-26 lead.

With 1:29 left, Glastonbury got possession after Faye Kaplinski and Awolfala were called for a jump ball while battling for a rebound. With the alternative possession rule, Glastonbury got the ball and burned off nearly a minute passing the ball around the floor.

When Glastonbury’s Alyssa Healy missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity with 28.9 seconds left, Simsbury got the ball back. But they struggled to get off a good shot thanks to the Guardian defense.

“Simsbury is a special team,” Glastonbury head coach Chris Vozzolo said. “I have to credit my assistant coach (Tim Bosworth). He watched enough film where he said we should pack in a zone and use our pressure at moments in the game. With a good team like Simsbury that executes so well, we thought we give it a try and it ended up working out in a defensive battle.”

Glastonbury led 6-1 after one period and 8-7 at halftime. Both teams took their time before attempting shots but they had a hard time finding open players in the paint.

“I was really pleased we came out in the second half and executed every well,” Simsbury coach Sam Zullo said. “We got up by seven and then we let their pressure rattle us a little bit and let them back in the game.”

Simsbury’s Faye Kaplinski and Glastonbury’s Gisel Astisaran (22) battle for a loose ball during Monday night’s CCC West game in Simsbury.

Gallagher got it started for Simsbury in the third quarter with a three-point shot. She scored eight of Simsbury’s 15 points in the third quarter.

Leading by three, Olivia Jarvis scored in the lane with 3:21 left in the quarter to extend the lead to five. Gallagher scored in the lane with 1:09 remaining and Jarvis hit two free throws with 33.6 seconds left in the quarter to extend the lead to nine, 22-13.

Baskets from Awolfala in the paint helped the Guardians climb back into the game. She had six of Glastonbury’s next nine points as the Guardians tied the game at 22-22 with 4:33 remaining in the game.

For Simsbury, the question that fans didn’t want to speak about was sitting on the bench next to Zullo. All-State guard Lauren Sabia hurt her knee two weeks ago against Conard and is done for the season. It’s always tough to see a player’s scholastic career end prematurely due to injury.

Still, the goals for the team haven’t changed. They remain the same as they were when the season began in December – a CCC and state championship.

“We can play with anybody we can beat anybody on a given night,” Zullo said. “But every game will be hard. Everyone that is left is good. Every game will be tough and to win one of the tournaments, we have to string together four games like (Monday night) where we come out on top by one.”

Zullo understands errors due to defensive pressure. But he would like to eliminate some of those errors on consecutive possessions.

Simsbury returns to action this week when the CCC Tournament begins on Thursday with first round action. Winners will advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal contests.

Glastonbury 27, Simsbury 26
At Simsbury
Glastonbury (27)
Brianna Jordan 1-0-2, Alyssa Healy 1-0-2, Justine Ross 0-0-0, Maddy Handrahan 2-0-5, Cora Swiertiewie 0-0-0, Julen Astiasaran 0-0-0, Gisel Astisaran 1-0-2, Lily Woodworth 1-0-3, Lola Awolfala 6-1-13, Mana Skoric 0-0-0. Totals 12-1-27
Simsbury (26) Moira Hughes 0-0-0, Elle Koff 0-0-0, Olivia Jarvis 1-4-6, Beece Willison 0-0-0, Faye Kaplinski 2-1-5, Amanda Gallagher 5-2-15. Totals 8-7-26
Glastonbury (17-3)          6  2  7  12  — 27
Simsbury (16-4)               1  6  15  4  — 26
Three-point goals: Handianan (G), Woodworth (G), Gallagher (S) 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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