BRISTOL - On senior night for the St. Paul girls basketball team, Aidrianna Lopez and Molly Hooks made sure to finish their last regular season game with a victory.
Lopez was all over the court, showing off her typical hustle throughout all 32 minutes and Hooks was a threat in the paint, grabbing offensive boards and pairing up with sophomore Jade Udoh to dominate rebounding.
It all culminated in a 62-44 win for the Falcons over Derby on Wednesday night.
“It feels good,” St. Paul senior Aidrianna Lopez said. “We did mess up a little in the beginning, but we pulled out a win. It’s great to be a senior and win on your senior night.”
Udoh led the Falcons in scoring with 18 points as she showed off an impressive set of post moves the Red Raiders had no answer for.
“I’m really comfortable in the post,” Udoh said. “I’ve been pretty much playing the post my whole life so it’s almost like muscle memory. You learn to read the defense. Even though they were in a zone, I could still feel where they were so I knew where to turn. It comes naturally in the post.”
The first half was inconsistent for St. Paul.
The Falcons outhustled Derby throughout it and dominated the offensive boards, eight of which came in the first quarter with Lopez pulling down five rebounds of her own.
The scoring, though, wasn’t there and St. Paul allowed some easy looks for the Red Raiders. Even with the defensive inconsistencies, it was just a three-point game.
“We have a good record but we play spotty basketball at times,” St. Paul head coach Joe Mone said. “The one thing tonight is that we played poor defensively in the first half and we’ve played good defensively all year. The second half was much better. But I think if we’re going to make any kind of run in our league or state tournament we’re going to really have to play great defense.”
The second half was better for the Falcons and the scoring came on strong.
St. Paul used a dominant 20-5 run to put the game away.
Udoh had some big defensive blocks on the run, Morgan Kolb had six of her seven points during it and Lopez added five of the points.
For the Falcons, it’s a strong finish to a season that’s brought mixed emotions.
St. Paul finishes the regular season with a record of 17-3 and is the regular season NVL champion.
The group, however, has suffered injuries throughout the year and lost another player against the Red Raiders with Catherine Ciampi getting hurt.
Regardless, the Falcons have continued to fight each night and that’s not going to change as they now head into the NVL Tournament and then the state tournament afterward.
“We’re really pumped up for it,” Udoh said. “Because when we had all the injuries like Janessa, Taylor and even some of the [junior varsity] kids it kind of affected our morale. We were like, ‘oh man, what are we going to do?’ But we didn’t give up on each other. We stuck together as a team and realized that we can do this.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org