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Haddam-Killingworth picked up an historic victory and improved to 4-2 on Jan. 4 with a 66-44 home decision over Hyde, giving Head Coach Jim Bombaci his 500th career victory.
"I've been lucky to have some great ballplayers along the way. It's kids who want to work hard and play together," said Bombaci, who is in his 36th year of coaching. "The key to longevity has been the love of passing the game onto the kids. Playing sports is a great way to learn about life. There are ups and downs and you learn to pick yourself up during the downs and that's what I've been passing on."
Hosting Cromwell, the Panthers took a 22-19 lead into halftime and extended the edge to double digits in the third quarter. HK stormed back to take the lead at 40-39 with time winding down, but Cromwell hit key free throws down the stretch to take the win.
The Cougars were led by Lauren McCann (11 points, 5 rebounds), Kiley Anderson (9 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Halie Serbent (9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals). Maya Savino and Caroline Fortuna each netted five points while Savino added five assists on the night.
Previously, the Cougars finished second at the Hand Holiday Tournament, defeating the host Tigers 56-54 in the opening round on Dec. 27 before a 62-45 defeat versus Lyman Hall in the championship game the following night.
Against Hand, HK used balanced scoring to take a 30-24 lead into the locker room at the break. The lead blossomed to 11 in the second half before a furious Hand rally cut the deficit to two points with six seconds remaining. HK's defense forced a Tigers' turnover on the final play of the game to seal the team's spot in the championship game with two-point victory.
Four Cougars scored in double figures, led by McCann (15 points), Serbent (12 points), Anderson (11 points), and Savino (10 points). Fortuna scored four points while Jess Kasper and Brinley Anderson each made a hoop.
The Cougars then faced Lyman Hall in the title contest and the Trojans' defensive pressure led to HK turnovers and a large first quarter deficit. Facing a double-digit hole, HK came out after the break and cut into the lead, only to have Lyman Hall respond with timely long-range shooting as the Trojans prevailed.
Savino and Anderson led the way with 10 points each, plus McCann and Kasper each netted eight and Serbent finished with seven points.
On Dec. 19, the Cougars hosted defending state champion Cromwell in a Shoreline Conference matchup, but took a rough 43-40 loss.
The Cougars scored a 64-28 rout of Portland at home on Dec. 30 to improve to 2-1 on the campaign.
Against Portland, Hunter Czaja led with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Luke Ford dropped in 13 points with six boards, and Matt Genovesio added 14 points. HK held a 16-5 edge after one period and never looked back for the triumph.