No. 6 Rocky Hill ousts No. 11 Stonington girls in Class M quarters
Rocky Hill — Stonington has made its bones this season with a willingness to run with anyone and two posts (Aliza Bell and Izzy Yarnall) who hoard rebounds like Scrooge hoarded money.
The Bears met their match in Rocky Hill on Monday.
The sixth-seeded Terriers use a relentless full-court press and had the bigs to match No. 11 Stonington's. Rocky Hill also shot much better and won its CIAC Class M girls' basketball quarterfinal 55-42 to advance to its first semifinal.
"I really thought my kids, as usual, played 110 percent and I couldn't ask for anything more from them," Stonington head coach Paulla Solar said. "It would've been nice if we finished some shots."
The Bears shot 39 percent. Rocky Hill shot 54.8 percent.
"I thought we were pretty neck-and-neck and it wasn't a blowout," Solar said. "I know we missed some free throws and that didn't help, but (Rocky Hill) did what they need to do."
Free throw shooting has been a problem for Stonington all season. It missed seven of 15 against the Terriers. Rocky Hill made 9 of 11.
"It's something we have to get over and figure out," Solar said. "I don't know why (it's an issue). We take plenty of them (at practice) under pressure."
Nikki Lukens scored a game-high 22 points for the Terriers (20-5). They'll play second-seeded East Haven in Friday's semifinals.
The Yellowjackets thwacked No. 23 Wolcott 85-33.
Reserve post Grace Moore scored six of her 10 points in the fourth quarter for Rocky Hill.
Senior Kate Hall had 16 points and seven steals for Stonington, which finishes 16-8. She also kick-started the Bears when they trailed, 16-9, with three minutes, 55 seconds left in the first half.
Hall scored half of Stonington's 12 points in the second quarter. It helped the Bears cut their deficit to 22-21 at halftime.
The Terriers trailed by a point early in the third quarter when they went on a 13-3 run. Four of those points were by steals for layups.
Stonington had 18 turnovers.
"This is probably the only team other than New London that pressed the whole time," Solar said. "It's something that you should be able to get through."
Luken's steal and layup pushed Rocky Hill ahead, 35-24, with 4:49 left in the third.
"We didn't really take care of the ball that well (in the first half), but our defensive approach was pretty solid," said Terriers head coach Allyson Smith, who won a Division II national championship at Southern Connecticut State. "I think we got a lot of our offense from our defense tonight.
"I was excited for this game. We both kind of have similar up-tempo styles. Stonington is a quick, quick team and a very well-coached team. ... We just had a game plan to really limit the inside touches and force them to shoot jump shots."
Hall made back-to-back baskets to get the Bears as close as 43-39 with 3:03 left in the game.
Junior Aliza Bell scored 10 for Stonington and will be one of four starters back next season. Classmates Miranda Arruda, Kate Johnson and Yarnall and are the others.
"We've got things to work on, but it's a really great thing knowing that I have four of my starters coming back," Solar said.
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