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    Monday, May 27, 2024

    No. 6 Ledyard rallies for another upset, will meet No. 1 New London in ECC Division I final

    Ledyard’s Emma Sonia Henry-Ortiz (3) and Adrianna Hardison (1) celebrate their win against Bacon Academy in the ECC Girls’ Basketball Division I tournament semifinal on Saturday at Fitch High School. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    New London’s Serenity Lancaster (5) drives the ball to the basket against Fitch’s Ada Ellis (22) during the girls’ basketball ECC Division I semifinal game on Saturday at Fitch High School. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    Fitch’s Gabriella Dimock (15) controls the ball against New London’ s Nyarah Dudley (1) during the girls’ basketball ECC Division I semifinal game on Saturday at Fitch High School. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    New London’s Serenity Lancaster (5) blocks the shot of Fitch’s Dre’ Ana Singleton (1) during the girls’ basketball ECC Division I semifinal game on Saturday at Fitch High School. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    Bacon’s Katelyn Novak (5) goes up for a long shot against Ledyard’s Cierra Bravar (4) during the girls’ basketball ECC Division I semifinal game on Saturday at Fitch High School. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    Ledyard’s Cierra Bravar (4) takes control of the ball and heads downcourt during the girls’ basketball ECC Division I semifinal game against Bacon on Saturday at Fitch High School. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    Groton — Adrianna Hardison had the perfect way to describe Ledyard’s second straight upset Saturday afternoon in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I girls’ basketball tournament.

    “It helps that our coach (Mike Morgan) was a Division I football player,” Hardison said. “He definitely taught us how to be tough: get on the floor, get the 50-50 balls, play for our seniors because we don’t know if this is our last ECC game or not.”

    Ledyard, the No. 6 seed, defeated No. 2 Bacon Academy 69-58 in the semifinals to advance to the championship game at Mohegan Sun Arena for the second straight season.

    The Colonels (13-9) will meet top-seeded New London (18-4) in the final at 8 p.m. Tuesday after the Whalers, backed by 22 points, six steals and four assists from freshman Jaidelis Rivera, topped No. 4 Fitch 50-41 in the second semifinal at Fitch High School.

    Ledyard trailed 40-24 at halftime before unleashing 45 points in the second half, with Hardison scoring 15 of her game-high 29 points after the break. Hardison added nine rebounds, four steals and three assists, Maggie Dykes had 12 points and six assists and freshman Olivea Shelton finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

    Cassie Rice hit three 3-pointers, all in the second half, for Ledyard as the Colonels drew within 49-45 after three quarters. A 3 by Rice pulled Ledyard within three points with 7 minutes, 31 seconds to play.

    Hardison scored on an offensive rebound to carve the deficit to one and Hardison’s 3 at the 5:51 mark gave the Colonels the lead for good at 53-51. Dykes drove and banked in a shot and Hardison drove and spun for a layup as Ledyard completed a 12-1 run up 57-52.

    Ledyard was coming off Thursday’s 69-56 win over No. 3 Norwich Free Academy in the ECC quarterfinals, getting 23 points in that game from Dykes.

    “We got a little frustrated,” Ledyard’s Rice said of the win over Bacon. “At halftime, we had a talk and we were like, ‘We need to step it up as a team. We need to bring each other together.’”

    “It was like, ‘We have to go get this,’” Morgan, who played defensive back at Bryant College, said of the second-half approach for the Colonels. “I wasn’t even concerned about our offense. I was concerned about our defense, because it’s like, we gave up 40 points in a half. That’s way too much. It got to the point where we were playing the style of basketball that I coach them to play.”

    Katelyn Novak had 24 points for Bacon (16-6), 17 in the first half, Skyelyn Schoen-Rene had 16 and Cara Shea had 13. The Bobcats had three players foul out down the stretch, however, making it nearly impossible to overcome Ledyard’s momentum.

    In the second game, Rivera sparked defending tournament champion New London with 12 points in the first half as the Whalers took a 24-18 lead. New London lost its last game in Fitch’s gym 54-44 on Jan. 2.

    “I feel like we came out with good energy, came out with good intensity because as you know, we played them once before and we lost to them the first time at their home,” Rivera said.

    “She was up and she was pressuring the heck out of the ball and got a few turnovers and got some open fast break layups which got our momentum moving a little bit,” New London coach Tammy Millsaps said of Rivera. “... She wants the responsibility; as a freshman, most kids would back away from that.”

    Serenity Lancaster added 19 points and 12 rebounds for New London.

    Meleeya Robbins had 17 points and Gabby Dimock eight points and 12 rebounds for Fitch (12-10).

    • Top-ranked Stonington will meet No. 2 Windham in the ECC Division II championship game at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Mohegan Sun Arena. Stonington defeated No. 4 St. Bernard 47-26 and Windham beat No. 3 Lyman Memorial 68-35.

    Presley Smith had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Stonington (15-7) and Adilyn Risley finished with 11 points. Angelica Tompkins had 10 points for St. Bernard (14-8). The championship game will be a rematch of last season’s, which was won by Stonington 40-31.

    Makayla Piaseczny had eight points in the loss for Lyman (14-8).

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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