Hall takes down crosstown rival Conard, getting a win on Senior Night and splitting the season series between the West Hartford schools.
By Marlon Pitter. Photos by Hunter Marotto
Hall senior co-captains Olivia Deslauriers and Olivia Bonee were determined to ensure that their final home game was nowhere near bittersweet.
The two combined for 31 points in a 56-49 Senior Night win over crosstown rival Conard Tuesday night in West Hartford. Deslauriers led the Warriors with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Bonee added seven points and four rebounds in her first game back from a midseason ankle injury.
“I’m really happy for them that they were able to pull out a win on Senior Night against Conard,” said Hall head coach Brittany Huggins. “Lots of emotions in this game. Big rivalry. Great game by Liv D to able to perform that well [in] her last home game, and I’m always in awe of Bonee’s leadership and her impact on the floor.
“She was missed for the last 10 games or whatever it’s been, so we missed her and I’m happy that they were able to – through a challenging season – end on a win.”
Azaiyah Felder posted a double-double for Conard with 33 points and 10 rebounds, while Ella DiPippo scored 11. McKenzie Mandyck and Abby Magendantz scored 10 and eight points for the Warriors respectively.
“We all just came out with so much energy,” said Deslauriers. “My other senior with me [just] came off of an injury. We had lost a ton of games in a row, so we really just wanted to get back. We lost in the first game [against Conard], so we just wanted to come out with as much energy as we could so we could pull this game out.”
Hall took a 7-2 lead early, but the teams traded baskets en route to a 16-16 tie after one quarter with both squads nearly in the bonus.
The second quarter remained similarly tight, but the Warriors pulled away in the last two minutes for a lead at halftime. Deslauriers made a 3-pointer to take a 26-23 lead at the two-minute mark. Hall finished the half on a 6-0 run, up 32-25 at the break.
Felder kicked off the third quarter scoring six points in an 8-2 run for the Chieftains to make it a one-point game, 34-33. The Warriors gained little distance but never fell behind in the third quarter. Magendantz answered a Conard score with 48 seconds remaining to give Hall a 43-39 advantage into the fourth.
Felder scored to open the fourth quarter and cut Hall’s lead to two, but Deslauriers extended the margin with a 6-0 run of her own to make it 49-41.
Deslauriers made a 3-pointer midway through the quarter to give the Warriors a 54-43 advantage. While the Warriors’ offense slowed late, their defense remained intact late to challenge Felder and company.
The Chieftains scored four of their last six points at the free throw line, attempting to erase a 13-point deficit in the final three minutes.
With the regular season over, both teams still have more to play for.
Conard (14-6) awaits its matchup in the first round of the Central Connecticut Conference Tournament on Thursday. The CCC Tournament results will not affect the Chieftains’ standing in the CIAC Class LL Tournament – which they qualified for with their eighth win of the season. After having a seven-game win streak snapped, Conard looks to regroup for the postseason.
“Practice tomorrow – we’re right back at it again, working on the little things,” said Conard head coach Laurie Cersosimo. “I think our practice is gonna be spent a lot on defense, considering that we didn’t do much of that tonight. That’s what we’re gonna start tomorrow.”
Hall (7-13), despite not winning eight games, entered Tuesday in 30th place in the Class LL rankings, meaning the Warriors will make the state tournament as the CIAC fills the girls basketball brackets in each division with the top 32 teams. The CIAC will release the tournament pairings on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
Hall will prepare for a road game in the first round of the state tournament on Monday, March 2. With Bonee back, the Warriors look to use the momentum from their Senior Night victory to catapult them going forward.
“We just gotta keep playing together, keep playing hard, leaving everything on the court, playing every game like it’s our last,” Bonee said. “Everyone’s just gotta push each other in practice, and we’re hyped. We’re ready.”
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