ciac class l: hand at pomperaug Panthers fall in Class L semis
SOUTHBURY — Close losses against the top teams in the state haunted the Daniel Hand girls basketball team all season, and that continued into the SCC playoffs after one reprieve against Mercy.
So far in the Class L tournament, the Tigers have left nothing to chance.
No. 19 Hand earned a third straight double-digit win in the tournament, this time by upending No. 6 Pomperaug 58-46 to claim its third straight Class L semifinal appearance. Sara Wohlgermuth scored 21 points for Hand, which will face No. 2 Windsor in Friday’s semis.
Battle tested doesn’t even begin to describe the Tigers (12-11), who went 2-6 to end the regular season before upsetting Mercy in the SCC tournament.
“In the moment those were very hard,” said Wohlgermuth, who is becoming one of the stars of the postseason. “But working hard every day coming back from those competitive losses, we knew we had fight in us and once it was playoff time we would be ready to go.”
The Tigers trailed by a point entering the fourth quarter after a strong Pomperaug rally, but the lead was theirs for good quickly. Hand converted a series of layups as part of a 14-0 run that left the hosts stunned.
“They were trying to pressure up and Sara is going to be one of the quicker guards in the state all the time,” said Hand coach Tim Tredwell. “We were patient more than anything. Summer (Adams) had the ball up top, she was calm enough to go to the basket under control.”
Pomperaug trailed 31-24 at halftime but had a strong third quarter to snatch the lead. A 3-pointer from Molly Flanagan gave the Panthers a 38-35 advantage late on. Brooke Salutari added 15 for the Tigers, who have won two of three state tournament games on the road.
“We turned the ball over too much and they beat us on the glass,” said Pomperaug coach Joe Fortier. “They forced us into some uncharacteristic stuff in terms of giving up the basketball before half-court. … (Wohlgermuth) is going to change games; she was the best point guard we played all year.”
It was a bittersweet late moment for Panthers senior Maggie Lee, who notched her 1,000 career point with less than four minutes to go. She converted a triple from well behind the 3-point line along the wing to pull her team to within 51-41 late on. The lone senior to depart Pomperaug — Hand has just one senior too — left to a standing ovation in the final 90 seconds.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a coach was to say goodbye to her,” Fortier said. “The way she took this team during the offseason and changed the culture and put everyone’s effort into perspective. It goes beyond basketball with her; if my daughters grew up to be half the person she is, I’ll be a lucky dad.”
Cara McGettigan added 15 for the Panthers, who finished their season at 17-7.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sara Wohlgemuth, Hand: Scored 11 points as a freshman as part of a rout of the Panthers two years ago en route to a state championship. Will history repeat itself?
“We’re a year ahead of schedule, I had to explain to these girls what playing with house money means,” Tredwell said. “We’re ahead of schedule; we told them to just play loose, have fun and play your game.”
DANIEL HAND 58, POMPERAUG 46
Sara Wohlgemuth 9 3-6 21 Julia Kuhn 3 1-2 7 Anna Beccia 1 2-2 4 Taya Akers 1 0-0 3 Hadley Houghton 0 5-6 5 Brooke Salutari 5 5-9 15 Summer Adams 1 1-2 3. Totals: 20 17-27 58.
Marina Lambiase 1 0-0 2 Sydney Lournsbury 1 1-1 3 Cara McGettigan 6 3-3 15 Molly Flanagan 3 2-2 9 Maggie Lee 5 3-4 17 Maddie Villa 0 0-0 0 Alex Rafferty 0 0-0 0 Jada Stietzel 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 9-10 46.
HAND 11 20 6 21 — 58
POMPERAUG 16 8 14 8 — 46
3-pointers: DH—Akers; P—Lee 4, Flanagan.