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Balanced Effort Leads Conard Girls Past Cheshire

The Conard High School girls basketball team. Jan. 2, 2019. Photo credit: Marlon Pitter

Conard improves to 3-3 and earns its first home win of the season.

By Marlon Pitter

Sparked by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the second quarter, the Conard girls basketball team pulled away from Cheshire in the second half to earn a 49-39 win Wednesday night in West Hartford.

Tied at 19 with two seconds left, Meghann Morhardt made a 3-pointer off an inbound pass to put the Chieftains ahead 22-19 at the half. From there, Conard outscored Cheshire (2-3) 27-20 in the second half.

“When we see one go down, especially in that fashion going into halftime, it really gives us momentum going into the second half,” said Conard head coach Mike D’Angelo. “I think you could see that with our defensive intensity, and everything really picked up in the third quarter.”

Entering the fourth leading 33-30, the Chieftains went on a 16-2 run to put the game out of reach for the Rams. Ella DiPippo scored to give Conard its largest lead of the game, 49-32, with 2:07 remaining.

Cheshire took a 13-6 lead with 3:34 left in the first quarter, but Conard trimmed the gap to 13-11 heading into the second.

The Rams led 19-13 with 3:13 left in the half, but the Chieftains went on a 9-0 run to close out the second quarter.

Azaiyah Felder led the game with 11 points, followed by Isabella Macaldo with 10. DiPippo, Morhardt and Jessica McNally each chipped in eight.

As his young team improves to 3-3 on the year, D’Angelo said he liked the consistent effort the Chieftains put forth despite leading by double digits late.

“I don’t want to tell them to stop playing what got us there,” he said. “I want them to continue to do the things that got us there, but also [make] smart decisions. I think we really did that tonight.”

Felder wreaked havoc defensively and on the glass to go along with her scoring output. Despite scoring fewer points than in recent outings, a balanced attack was the key to her effort against Cheshire, D’Angelo said.

“She needs to be the best player in all three phases – offensively, defensively, ballhandling,” said D’Angelo. “She had 11 points. I think she had eight assists. She had six rebounds. That’s a stat line. That’s what I want from her.”

After playing four of its first six games on the road, Conard continues a two-game homestand against Southington (2-4) Friday night looking to avenge a 60-58 road loss to the Blue Knights in December.

“It’s going to be a lot of emotion,” said D’Angelo. “It’s a division game. We want to get one in the division. We’re going to take a lot of positives from this, especially the play of the whole entire team to be so balanced.

“We’re going to roll into Friday and then roll into Monday. We’re going to keep this thing moving.”

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Marlon Pitter

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