Girls basketball: Balanced Terriers eliminate Bears from Class M state tournament

Girls basketball: Balanced Terriers eliminate Bears from Class M state tournament

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ROCKY HILL, Conn. — Rocky Hill’s girls basketball team is at its best when six, seven and even eight players are in the scoring column.

Balance is what makes the Terriers go, according to coach Allyson Smith. It was that balance during a crucial stretch of Monday’s CIAC Class M quarterfinal game with Stonington High that lifted Rocky Hill past the Bears, 55-42.

Sixth-seeded Rocky Hill (20-5) will make its first-ever appearance in the semifinals Friday against No. 2 East Haven.

Stonington (16-8) took an early lead in the second half on a drive by Kate Johnson to make to make it 23-22. The 14th-seeded Bears came out in a box-and-one defense to start the second half — Miranda Arruda defended the Terriers’ Nikki Lukens man-to-man. Lukens, who averages about 20 points per game, had scored 12 in the first half.

But Rocky Hill outscored Stonington 13-1 to take a 35-24 lead with about four minutes left in the third quarter. Lizzy DeNardo made two layups, Sammy Steinman hit a 12-footer and Aleska Peterson nailed a 3-pointer in the run.

Lukens also scored six in in the spurt, but it was the contribution from others that really hurt the Bears. Six players scored for Rocky Hill in the game.

Stonington didn’t help itself any by going 1 for 4 from the free-throw line during the spurt. The Bears finished 8 for 15 for the game. Rocky Hill was 9 for 11.

Stonington coach Paulla Solar was not surprised by Rocky Hill’s balance.

“We kind of knew that would happen, but you have to pick your poison,” Solar said. “We knew we had to worry about No. 11 (Lukens). … That is a sign of a good team, that everyone can put the ball in the hole.”

Stonington never led again, but the Bears did make it interesting a couple of times down the stretch. A three-point play by Kate Hall (16 points) and a pair of free throws by Izzy Yarnall (9 rebounds) left the Bears down seven, 37-30, as the third quarter ended.

With about three minutes left in the game, Hall banked in a drive and the Bears only trailed, 43-39. But Lukens answered on the other end to make it 45-39.

Arruda’s putback cut the Bears deficit to five, 47-42, with 1:35 left. The Bears were forced to foul and the Terriers missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Grace Moore’s offensive rebound off the miss and putback made it 49-42 with 1:24 left. Moore scored 10.

Rocky Hill went 6 for 6 at the line down the stretch to wrap it up. Stonington failed to score over the final 1:35.

Rocky Hill, as it has done all season, Smith said, pressed full court for most of the game, causing the Bears problems at times.

The loss ended Stonington’s deepest run since in the Class M tournament since the 2007-08 tournament when it reached the quarterfinals.

“I thought my kids, as usual, played 110 percent,” Solar said. “I couldn’t ask anything more of them. It would have been nice if some shots had fallen.”

Aliza Bell finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Arruda added seven points.

Stonington trailed 16-9 after the first quarter, but held Rocky Hill scoreless for almost six minutes in the second quarter. The Bears did a good job sagging to the high post in their 1-2-2 zone defense, preventing Lukens from getting the ball.

Stonington scored the first eight points of the second quarter, capped by an Arruda 3-pointer, to lead 17-16.



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