Waterford beats East Lyme 49-41 in ECC Division I quarters
Waterford — This game was sort of plodding along, Waterford leading East Lyme 27-24 after a complete three quarters, neither team shooting what would be considered well.
Then East Lyme's Megan Bauman, with a 3-pointer inside the first minute of the fourth quarter, not only tied things but set the stage for an uptempo quarter that belied the game's first, much drier 24 minutes.
Waterford's Mia Brennan hit two fourth-quarter 3s and teammate Julianna Bonilla one, while Bauman hit two for East Lyme and both teams found themselves at the free throw line with great frequency.
Third-seeded Waterford hung on to the 49-41 victory over No. 6 East Lyme in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I tournament girls' basketball quarterfinals Thursday night. Waterford (17-4) returns to Plainfield High School for a semifinal-round matchup at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against No. 2 New London. No. 1 Norwich Free Academy meets No. 4 Bacon Academy in the second semifinal at 6:30 p.m.
Waterford made quite the impression last year at Plainfield as the No. 4 seed, knocking off previously unbeatem New London in the semis and forcing overtime with NFA in the championship before falling short.
"Once the adrenaline got going, everybody started playing better," Waterford coach Mark Capasso said of the furious fourth quarter against East Lyme. "It was kind of an ugly game to watch. We were switching some defenses back and forth.
" ... I think you'd agree, (East Lyme is) a great 11-10 team. They play in a tough league. We were in a summer league together and I was not looking forward to playing them."
Kayla Jean-Pierre led Waterford, this season's ECC Division II champion, with 16 points, while Brennan finished with 12 and Bonilla nine.
Meanwhile, East Lyme introduced a pair of freshmen to ECC tournament play in Sophie Dubreuil, a guard, and Nadia Tarhini, a center. Dubreuil finished with 14 points and defended Brennan, while Tarhini had 13 points before fouling out late. Bauman, the sophomore point guard, added 10.
Tarhini had nine points in the first half, keeping East Lyme afloat. Waterford led 18-15 at the half behind seven points from Jean-Pierre. East Lyme tied things twice in the third quarter on a 3-pointer, followed by a layup by Dubreuil (20-20) and on an inside basket by Tarhini (22-22).
Bauman's 3 to start the third quarter tied the game for the final time, but the Vikings still only trailed 41-39 on a driving over-the-head flip shot by Dubreuil with 1 minute, 56 seconds to play.
Waterford responded with a basket by Jean-Pierre, assisted by Ashley Goldstein, pushing it to 43-39, and free throws from Jean-Pierre, Goldstein and Brennan to close the game.
"I've been real pleased with my freshman, Sophie Dubreuil, all year," East Lyme first-year coach Sal Fiorillo said. "She has a tremendous heart; I love the way she plays.
"We got ourselves in some foul trouble, which got us into some trouble with our matchups. But we're moving up every single day. Every day we get a little bit better."
For Waterford, it's the eighth time this season the Lancers have been in a game decided by 11 points or fewer. Waterford has won the last five of those, including back-to-back must-wins over Bacon (41-33) and Stonington (61-59) on the way to finishing at the top in Division II.
"We just have to keep the intensity level and be positive," Brennan said.
Waterford lost to New London 60-34 on Jan. 21.
"I don't know what to expect. I hope we play well," Capasso said of Saturday's rematch. "In the first game, India (Pagan of New London) started to take over; she's such a unique talent. We'll do our best."
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