Girls basketball: Stonington’s Hall scores 1,000th point; coach Solar earns 400th win (updated with video highlights, Hall, Solar interviews)

Girls basketball: Stonington’s Hall scores 1,000th point; coach Solar earns 400th win (updated with video highlights, Hall, Solar interviews)

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STONINGTON — One victory, two milestones, advancing in the state tournament — it was a memorable night for the Stonington High girls basketball team.

It all happened Monday at Bears Gym. Senior guard Kate Hall surpassed 1,000 career points and coach Paulla Solar notched her 400th career victory as Stonington defeated Berlin, 59-45, in a Class M first-round game.

The 14th-seeded Bears (15-7) will next meet No. 3 St. Paul Catholic (18-4) on Thursday in Bristol. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

Hall scored a game-high 24 points to give her 1,006 for her career. After the game, she accepted numerous congratulatory hugs from teammates, family and friends.

“I’m just so excited for coach Solar,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes. “She got her 400th and I got my 1,000th. It was a great day for both of us.”

Solar was honored after the game with a bracelet, flowers, an inflatable “400” and a video tribute from former players, including Heather Buck, who led the Bears to their last state title, in 2006.

Solar’s career mark stands at 400-185 with two state championships (the other was in 1980) in three stints at Stonington that cover 26 seasons.

Her team, several fans and some former players gathered around Solar, who was seated in a chair on the gym floor, as she watched the video of former players sharing their memories, paying gratitude and offering congratulations. 

“I’m speechless,” she said. “I’m just really appreciative of everything they (her current team) did to make this a special night. I work these kids, and I think they understand what we’re all about. But they made it special for me.

“And it was great to see so many alumni and people supporting the program and being happy for me. It’s very nice, just a nice gesture.”

Berlin, seeded 19th in the tournament, didn’t make it easy for the Bears.

The Redcoats (14-10) hit six 3-pointers in the first half and the game was tied at 23 at intermission.

Angela Perrelli, who scored 13 points, had three 3s for Berlin.

“At halftime, I said in a very coach Solar voice, ‘You have to stop those 3s.’ I think what was happening, the kids, defensively, were worried about having them drive on them,” Solar said. “I said, ‘We have help with Izzy [Yarnall] in the paint, so you have to play up and tight on them.’”

The 6-2 Yarnall was a presence inside all game long for Stonington. She finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots.

“Izzy was freakin’ on fire,” Hall said.

Leading 35-34 with about three minutes left in the third quarter, the Bears pulled away with a 15-3 run that put them up 50-37 with about six minutes left in the game.

It was during that run that Hall surpassed 1,000. After Perrelli missed a free throw, Kate Johnson found Hall all alone at the other end for an easy layup (points 1,000 and 1,001) just before the buzzer to end the third quarter.

The Redcoats had just two 3s in the second half. They got as close as 52-45 on a DeAna Gibson 3 with 2:15 remaining, but that would be their last field goal.

After making one of two free throws, Hall left the game to a standing ovation with 58.7 seconds left.

“It’s awesome,” she said of reaching the 1,000-point milestone. “I’ve been waiting for it for four years so it’s pretty awesome. It’s been my goal since freshman year. I wanted to get my name on the banner.”

Hall is 10th on the program’s scoring list with her 1,006 points. Dora Clark (Class of 1996) is ninth with 1,010. Buck (Class of 2008) leads with 2,205.

Like Yarnall, forward Aliza Bell was a force in the paint for Stonington. She finished with 13 points and 21 rebounds.

Referees called 13 turnover violations in the game, 11 on the Bears.

St. Paul Catholic defeated No. 3 Oxford, 44-37, on Monday. The Falcons lost their previous game, 48-39, to Wolcott in the first round of the Naugatuck Valley League tournament.



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