Conard hosted crosstown West Hartford rival Hall on Monday for the teams’ second match-up of the season.
By Paul Palmer
In more ways than one, it was senior night at Conard Monday night as the Red Wolves not only honored their 12th graders, but that starting five made a statement in a 55-20 win over Hall.
“I am so proud of this team,” said senior Teagan DiPippo. “It is so great to end the season with this win over Hall.”
Conard’s offense against the Titans was actually led by a sophomore, as Emily Knowles dropped in 22 points to lead all scorers. After a ceremony honoring the seniors and senior team manager, Conard started out a bit sloppy. They turned the ball over four time and missed their only shot in the opening 2 minutes. Hall had gone out 4-0 in that span before senior Macy McPhee hit Conard’s first basket.
After that the 16-4 hosts took over the game and held a young Hall team in check. McPhee would score the final 5 points of the quarter and it was 16-7 at the break.
The second quarter was unlike any either team had played this season. Conard would hold the Titans scoreless the entire period, scoring 16 more for themselves and it was 32-7 at the half. Knowles led all scorers at the break with 8 points. Hall’s Leah Berey (4 points) and Anya Leshem (3 points) accounted for all the visitors’ scoring.
Things did not improve much for Hall in the third as they did not score for nearly half of the quarter. Once again it was Berey providing this offense, as she hit a pair of free throws with 4:05 to go. At that same point Conard had scored just 3 points as each team turned the ball over and could not find the range from the floor.
The best play for the s the Red Wolves came on a nice passing play by Knowles and DiPippo. Off a turnover, Knowles gathered the loose ball, headed down court, and found DiPippo with a bounce pass, drawing the defender to her. DiPippo returned the pass as Knowles continued to the basket and dropped in the easy layup. The hoop gave Knowles 20 points in the game while Hall’s Leshem had 6 for the Titans after three.
With both teams substituting players, Hall had a small run in the fourth with Leshem and Berey once again pacing the scoring, but Conard kept its composure and hit 3s, lay-ins, and free throws down the stretch to close out the game with a 35-point difference. It was a fitting finish to a season for a team that head coach Laurie Cersosimo said may not even realize how good it is.
“They show up every day and they work. They treat every day as a business trip. They are the hardest working group I have ever had,” Cersosimo said.
DiPippo credits not only the time that the seniors have been together, but also a strong class of younger players that play valuable minutes and make big contributions. “We all play so well together,” she said.
Hall has one more regular season game remaining when they host Tolland. They will be looking to snap a five-game losing steak in that finale.
Conard will prep for the CCC tournament which begins on Thursday and then the state tournament after that. The Red Wolves finish 9-0 in league play and should keep the No. 1 spot in the CCC West Colonial. The five seniors on Conard have been together all four years and started with the program the same year that Cersosimo took over as head coach.
“They really helped build the culture and vision I wanted for this program in four years,” the coach said of her senior class. As for what’s ahead, Cersosimo said the plan is to keep doing what they are doing and not get too far ahead of themselves. “Last year we lost to Greenwich in the first round of the state tournament. We are looking to get past that round this year,” said Cersosimo.
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