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No. 2 Simsbury beats CCC champion Windsor to earn spot in semifinals

Windsor’s Ayanna Franks breaks up a shot by Simsbury’s Olivia Jarvis in Tuesday night’s Class L quarterfinal game in Simsbury.

SIMSBURY, March 5, 2024 – When the shots didn’t fall in Tuesday night’s Class L quarterfinal game against No. 10 Windsor, the Simsbury High girls basketball team didn’t flinch. They went back to playing defense.

When the game got physical with multiple fouls being called on both sides, the Trojans didn’t get rattled. They had prepared for this by scrimmaging the Simsbury boys varsity team and a few players from a local men’s basketball team.

“We were up for the challenge,” senior Olivia Jarvis said. “We got every resource we possibly get. We didn’t want to be surprised by anything they run.”

Jarvis had eight points and some crucial assists but fellow senior Amanda Gallagher had a game-high 26 points as No. 2 Simsbury beat Windsor, 37-31, to advance to the Class L semifinals for just the second time in school history.

The Trojans (21-4) will face No. 3 New Milford on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at New Britain High with an opportunity to earn a spot in the state championship game for the first time in program history.

Windsor (20-8) came into the game on a roll after winning their first Central Connecticut Conference championship in 17 years a week ago. The Warriors had a pair of dynamic scorers in Ayanna Franks and Kamaria Bowens. Simsbury held them to 10 and nine points, respectively.

“OJ (Olivia Jarvis) and Amanda (Gallagher) did a great job on those two kids bt you have to look at what everyone else did out there as well,” Simsbury coach Sam Zullo said. “Our gap help was really good and really disciplined. Every time, it wasn’t, (Windsor) took advantage.

“I am really proud of the toughness our kids showed tonight,” Zullo said.

Simsbury’s Amanda Gallagher had a game-high 26 points in Tuesday night’s win over Windsor.

They had to be mentally tough.

Simsbury scored just 10 points in the first quarter, six in the second quarter and two in the third quarter. Windsor wasn’t that successful either with three points in the first quarter and five in the third quarter.

Simsbury had an eight-point lead early but once Windsor went on a run of their own in the first quarter, it was a tight ballgame.

“Even when our shots don’t fall, we know we can still win,” Jarvis said. “We kept our composure and relied on each other. We knew what we had to do.”

Windsor led 20-18 after three quarters. Trailing by two, Gallagher hit a three-pointer at the top of the key off a nice feed from Jarvis with 6:13 remaining to put the Trojans ahead, 23-22. Simsbury got two offensive rebounds in the sequence before Gallagher drained her three-point shot.

About 30 seconds later, Jarvis grabbed an offensive rebound in the lane and scored for a 25-22 lead. With 4:39 remaining, it was Gallagher driving to the basket for another two points and a 27-22 lead.

Windsor responded with a jumper from Mikaela Williams and Syniah Harding grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back in to cut the lead to one, 27-26 with 2:04 remaining.

With 1:36 remaining, it was Jarvis with a jumper in the lane to extend the lead to three, 29-26. At the other end of the floor, Gallagher pulled down the rebound after a missed three-point shot.

With a minute remaining, Simsbury was inbounding the ball near their own basket. The official bounced the ball to Jarvis who didn’t hesitate at all and lofted a pass over two Windsor defenders to Gallagher, who sank a basket in the lane for a 31-26 lead.

Gallagher, who was 12-of-15 from the free throw line, hit four free throws to push the lead to 35-26.

Jarvis finished with eight points for Simsbury with Alexa Gallagher scoring three points with a three-pointer of her own. Only three players scored for the Trojans.

“It’s what we do,” Zullo said. “We would like to make a few more baskets but defense is what we’ve built this program on what we pride ourselves on and I thought we gave a heck of an effort tonight.”

Simsbury High players celebrate Tuesday night’s win over Windsor moving them into Saturday’s semifinals.

SImsbury took a quick 8-0 lead in the first quarter on a pair of three-point shots from the Gallagher sisters. But Simsbury sank just one field goal in the remainder of the first half. Windsor had three points after one quarter and trailed, 10-3. Windsor also trailed at the half, 16-15.

The only other trip to the semifinals for the Simsbury program came two years ago in 2022 when the Trojans lost to eventual state champion Notre Dame-Fairfield.

Simsbury 37, Windsor 31
At Simsbury
Windsor (31)
Kamaria Bowers 4-0-9, Mikaela Williams 2-3-7, Kaiyah Hardy 1-1-3, Tyler Welsh 0-0-0, Amaiya Stevens 0-0-0, Syniah Harding 1-0-2, Ayanna Franks 3-3-10. Totals 11-7
Simsbury (37) Olivia Jarvis 4-0-8, Addison Girard 0-0-0, Amanda Gallagher 6-12-26, Alexa Gallagher 1-0-3, Charlotte Reitz 0-0-0, Charlotte Diviney 0-0-0. Totals 11-12
Windsor (20-8)             3  12  5  11  — 31
Simsbury (21-4)           10  6  2  19  — 37
Three-point goals: Amanda Gallagher (S) 2, Alexa Gallagher (S), Bowens (W), Franks (W)

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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