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Surge helps Canton girls basketball team secure berth in state tournament

Sophia Mates, left, who had 20 points in an overtime win over East Windsor in January, helped Canton earn a CIAC state tournament berth with three wins in a stretch of four games. (Photo courtesy of Bill Brewster)

CANTON – A spot in the CIAC state tournament is not a given nor an automatic berth.

The success of the Canton High girls basketball program over the last 10 years, with four trips to the Class S finals and two state championships, has made that portion of the season look easy. It’s not.

After a stretch of eight games that saw the Warriors fall six times, Canton has rebounded and has earned a berth in the state tournament for the ninth straight season.

Canton (8-9) won three of four games with an overtime win over Windsor Locks and victories over Portland and SMSA to secure a spot in the Class M tournament that begins Monday, Feb. 27. Earning a spot in the state tournament also secured a berth for the Warriors in the NCCC Tournament that begins next week.

“I’m really happy for this group to secure its eighth win of the season, as things haven’t come easy for us this year,” Canton High head coach Brian Mederios said. “The girls did a really nice job of winning three of four games. Our (remaining regular season) games will be challenging, but I have a feeling we might surprise some teams along the way as we head into the NCCC and CIAC tournaments.”

Canton closes out the regular season with games against Ellington (13-3) on Monday night at home, at East Granby (3-13) on Wednesday night and against Bolton (15-1) at home on Saturday, Feb. 11.

The Warriors began the season by winning three of their first four games but then lost six of their next eight to sit at 5-7.

Canton began to turn that around with a 68-61 win in overtime over Windsor Locks on Jan. 24.

“That was out best win to date,” Medeiros said “We found ourselves down 10 points at the half, (33-23) due to the hot shooting of Windsor Locks’ Jasmine Hurdle and Maeve McGinnis (24 points). In the second half, we started to claw our way back into the game as we cut the lead to 41-36 by the end of the third quarter.

Canton’s Avery Brown had seven of her 21 points in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Canton’s defense helped spark an offensive surge.

“Sophia Mates really had a big quarter as she scored 13 of her game high 29 points in the (fourth) quarter,” Medeiros said. “But none were bigger than her three-point play with 13.3 seconds left to tie the game at 55.”

In overtime, the Warriors outscored Windsor Locks, 13-6 to secure the win. Miller had a big three-point play to put the game away for good. Mates pulled down 12 rebounds and had four assists.

“Our defense on Jasmine Hurdle in the second half limited her to two made free throws and that was a team effort led by Sam Yanke, Avery Miller, and Brooke Czerwinski,” Medeiros said. Yanke also pulled down 11 rebounds.

Avery Miller, left, and the Warriors are headed back to the state tournament. (Photo courtesy of Bill Brewster)

Two days later, Canton raced out to a 13-0 lead over Portland before the Highlanders could get on the scoreboard. Avery Brown had nine of her game-high 23 points in the first quarter as Canton rolled to a 49-23 non-league victory. Twelve different players got into the game. Solid defense helped the Warriors prevail.

Brown had 11 rebounds and four steals while Madisyn Reardon had 12 rebounds and seven points. Emery Howard pulled down eight rebounds and Gabby DelSanto dished out four assists and scored eight points.

The next night, Canton took an early 3-0 lead on a three-point shot from Avery Brown but little went well for the remainder of the evening in a 59-25 loss to Stafford on the road.

“We traded baskets with Stafford until they went up 12-10 on a basket from Camden Smith,” Medeiros said. “But they closed out the quarter on a 12-0 run with four three-point shots from three different players to go up 22-10.”

Canton limited Stafford to just eight points in the second quarter but couldn’t get anything going offensively, scoring just one point to trail at the half, 30-11. Canton had five straight points from Sophia Mates in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14 but the Bulldogs pulled away. Stafford sank 10 three-point shots in the game.

Last Tuesday, Canton secured their spot in the state tournament with a 65-34 win over Sport Medicine Science Academy. Mates had 12 of her game-high 28 points in the first quarter as the Warriors jumped out to a 17-5 lead.

In the second quarter, Brown and Gabby DelSanto combined for 10 of Canton’s 14 points as the Warriors expanded their lead to 31-16 at halftime. In the second half, Madisyn Reardon, Miller and Hannah Glassey combined for 14 points as the Warriors controlled the contest. Thirteen players got into the game and nine scored for the Warriors.

Mates had a team-high 15 rebounds while Brown had six assists and six rebounds. Miller and Yanke had nine rebounds each for CHS.

Sheehan beat the Warriors the next night playing some outstanding defense in a 51-38 non-league victory as Canton slipped to 8-9.

Canton 68, Windsor Locks 61
At Canton
(Jan. 24)
Windsor Locks (61) Alis Oberg 0 4-6 4, Jasmine Hurdle 5 2-3 16, Katie Gough 2 0-1 4, Bella Cannon 1-0-2, Maeve McGinnis 6 3-4 17, Carly MacDougle 6 2-6 14, Caroline McGinnis 1-0-2, Destiny Anderson 0 2-4 2, Totals: 21 18-24 61
Canton (68) Sophia Mates 10 9-13 29, Avery Brown 5 8-10 21, Avery Miller 2 1-1 5, Sam Yanke 1-0-2, Madisyn Reardon 1 1-2 3, Brooke Czerwinski 3 0-2 8, Hannah Glassey 0-0-0. Totals: 22 19-28 68
Canton (6-7)                      11  12  13  19  13  — 68
Windsor Locks (6-7)        13  20    8  14    6  — 61
Three-point goals: Hurdle (WL) 4, McGinnis (WL) 2, Brown (Ca) 3, Czerwinski (Ca) 2

Canton 49, Portland 23
At Canton
(Jan. 26)
Portland (23) Jamie Lasky 1 2-6 4, Morganne Pineda 5 2-2 12, Rachel Mailhot 1-0-2, Emily Dering 1-0-3, Lizzie Bustmantle 1-0-2. Totals: 9 4-8 23
Canton (49) Avery Brown 8 4-4 23, Gabby DelSanto 4-0-8, Avery Miller 1 1-4 3, Madisyn Reardon 2 3-6 7, Brooke Czerwinski 0-0-0, Hannah Glassey 2-0-4, Emery Howard 2-0-4, Sophia Mates – DNP. Totals: 19 8-14 49
Portland (0-12)         7  4  9  3  — 23
Canton (7-7)             15  13  11  10  — 49
Three-point goals: Dering (P), Brown (Ca) 3

Stafford 59, Canton 25
At Stafford
(Jan. 27)
Canton (25) Sophia Mates 5 2-3 12, Avery Brown 2 3-6 8, Gabby DelSanto 0 0-2 0, Avery Miller 0 0-1 0, Sam Yanke 0-0-0, Madisyn Reardon 1-0-2, Brooke Czerwinski 0-0-0, Hannah Glassey 2-0-4, Emery Howard 0 1-2 1, Kiera Gerhold 1-0-2, Totals: 9 6-14 25
Stafford (59) Camden Smith 5 3-4 17, Andrea Moultan 7-0-17, Jaelyn Moultan 5 2-2 15, Raina Caro 0 6-6 6, Alyse McLaughlin 1-0-2, Tan Ryan 0 1-2 1, Ava Strickland 0 1-2 1, Dria Uswell 0 0-3 0, Totals: 18 13-18 59
Canton (7-8)     10  1  9  5  — 25
Stafford (7-5)    22  10  19  10  — 59
Three-point goals: Brown (Ca), Smith (S) 4, Moultan (S) 3, Moultan (S) 3

Canton 65, SMSA 34
At Canton
(Jan. 31)
SMSA (34) Jayel Verdejo 3 3-3 10, Abby Dovette 3-0-8, Ashelyn Vorelg 2 0-2 4, Katleigh Reed 2 3-4 7, Phillise Mallard 2 0-3 4, Nozimbonu Marifjonova 0 1-3 1, Totals: 12 9-15 34
Canton (65) Sophia Mates 13 2-5 28, Avery Brown 4 3-5 12, Gabby DelSanto 2-0-6, Avery Miller 2-0-4, Sam Yanke 1-0-2, Madisyn Reardon 3-0-6, Brooke Czerwinski 0-0-0, Hannah Glassey 2-0-4, Emery Howard 0 1-2 1, Kiera Gerhold 1-0-2, Totals: 28 6-12 65
Canton (8-8)     17  14  23  11  — 65
SMSA (6-8)        5    9  11    7  — 34
Three-point goals: Verdejo (S), Dovette (S) 2, Brown (Ca), DelSanto (Ca) 2

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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