By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
Sponsored by Pat Cardozo from Coldwell Banker
Suffocating, man-to-man pressure defense, tenacious rebounding, crisp passing, and timely scoring all combined to enable the Amity girls’ basketball team to smother Woodland Regional High of Beacon Falls 44-8 Friday night in the Finals of the 2nd annual Candy Cane Classic, which was held at the Lady Spartan gymnasium in Woodbridge. With the victory over the visiting Hawks Coach Michelle Martinik’s girls improved their record to 6-1. Paul Mengold has been Amity’s Director of Athletics for nearly 30 years and he admitted that he cannot remember a Lady Spartan basketball team having a 6-1 record.
When told that, Martinik smiled and said, “Now it’s our job to keep the train on track and rolling.”
She added, “I was happy to see us bounce back and improve our play from yesterday. We didn’t communicate or play with much intensity last night against Oxford. Tonight, we had a lot to prove. We played well, picked up our defensive intensity, and communicated with each other much better than we did last night. We work on our defensive intensity every day in practice. Offensively, we made some great passes and got the looks we wanted. I was really pleased to see how the girls found each other on give-and-go cuts. It all came together tonight.”
Molly Ronan scored off the game’s opening-tip and the Lady Spartans never last that lead. Janae Graham canned a corner jump shot. Ronan scored from the block (off a perfect feed from Chloe Brinton), and Kristen Post added a deuce to quickly make it 9-0. The Hawks were scoreless until Andrea Piccolo netted a drive halfway through the first period. At the end of the opening session, Amity held an 11-4 advantage.
Led by Ronan (who dropped in six more of her game-high 14 points and Mikala Schmitt (who tossed in five points), Amity outgunned Woodland 17-2 during a busy second quarter to hold a commanding 28-6 halftime lead. With a second left, Ronan added an exclamation point by scoring off a pass from Post.
While the Lady Spartans netted 11 of their 26 shots during the first half (42%), the Hawks were good on only three of their 16 tries (19%) and also committed 16 turnovers.
As the third period wore on, Martinik began to clear her bench and give her reserves some playing time. During that third session, the Lady Spartans outscored Woodland 14-0 and extended their advantage to a whopping 42-6. In addition to a pretty base line drive by Brinton, Schmitt was fouled as she swished a three-ball and added the free throw to complete a very rare four point play.
By the fourth quarter, every player on the Lady Spartan bench had gotten into the game.
According to Martinik, “Our bench works hard every day in practice and got a lot of playing time tonight. I wanted to see what they could do. They played with great intensity and showed excellent chemistry, especially Amanda Vecchio, Rachel Nevolis, and Katherine Feng.
The winners ended up canning 17 of their 51 shots (33%). In addition to recording 32 turnovers, the Hawks (who are now 3-4) were good on only four of their 29 tries from the floor (14%). Amity also outrebounded Woodland 33-26 and recorded only 10 turnovers.
The Lady Spartans return to action on Friday at 7, when they host Shelton in their first SCC Housatonic Division contest of the season.
AMITY ITEMS: Ansonia defeated Oxford 42-38 in the consolation game of the tournament. At the conclusion of the tournament, it was announced that Melissa Tirella (Ansonia), Taylor Drayton (Oxford), Piccolo and Hannah Deegan (Woodland), along with Brinton and Schmitt (Amity) had been named to the All-Tournament team and Ronan was the tourney’s Outstanding Player.