The Southington girls basketball team pulled off the upset in its first round game of the Class LL tournament when it defeated No.10 seed Ridgefield 70-60. Now, the 23rd seeded Blue Knights will take on a much more familiar opponent in the second round, No. 7 seed Hall.
Unlike its opening-round matchup against the Tigers, Southington has already played the Warriors twice this season. Head coach Mike Forgione doesn’t believe the team’s familiarity with Hall makes much of a difference heading into the game though, because the team thoroughly scouts every opponent.
“We went into that game against Ridgefield knowing pretty much everything about them,” Forgione said. “We got to see their last two games so we knew what we were getting ourselves into and the girls knew all of the players and their strengths.”
Southington and Hall split their two meetings this season with each winning at home. The Blue Knights defeated the Warriors in the second game of the season 51-45, but in that game star forward Janette Wadolowski broke her hand. The junior missed nine games with the injury including the second game against Hall which Southington lost 71-56.
The Blue Knights went 3-6 without Wadolowski, but since she has returned the team has gone 8-3 including the win over Ridgefield. The junior scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in that game and is now back to playing at a high level at the perfect time.
“Hall hasn’t seen Janette for a full game,” Forgione said. “She is back to playing at a high level and overall, I like the way the team is playing right now. Beating a team as good as Ridgefield gives us a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Southington’s win over Hall early in the season was one of just three losses for it throughout the entire regular season so having Wadolowski for a full game won’t just hand the Blue Knights the win. The Warriors, like Southington, are short on seniors but are not short on talent as they enter the game having won seven of their last eight games, including the postseason.
“Hall is a really good team,” Forgione said. “They have a few really good guards that can score and a couple of forwards that you need to look out for so they are a complete team and it will be a challenge. I think we will be up for that challenge though.”
The last two times Southington and Hall met up the games were relatively low scoring. Forgione doesn’t expect that to be the case this time around.
“Any time you have two really good teams going at each other, there will probably be a lot of points scored,” Forgione said. “The game will likely be played at a faster pace so I’m just hoping that we are able to get more stops than they can.”
Based on the seedings, if the Blue Knights were to win tonight they would have pulled off two fairly major upsets over top-10 seeds in the first two rounds of the tournament. But when you consider Wadolowski’s injury and the way both teams are playing entering this rubber match, it wouldn’t be too much of a shock whichever team wins.
Southington is entering the game expecting it to be a tough environment, but the team knows that if it plays as well as its capable it has a good shot to advance to the quarterfinals.
“It should be a really good, close game,” Forgione said. “We lost to them in their gym last time we were there, but if we play like we normally do I think we will be just fine.
“My confidence level in this team is high because even though we don’t necessarily have a ton of experience, we have really good upperclassmen in Wadolowski, Hartlee Meier and Maggie Meehan (the lone senior) and they will lead the team. One thing I am sure of is that we will come out [tonight] and play really hard to get that win.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5