MIDDLETOWN – The Ansonia Tigers stayed on the tail of the Middletown Madison Mohawks for three quarters.
And just when it seemed that they were poised to make a move and make a final fourth quarter push, they stumbled and fell, which allowed the Mohawks to gain momentum and pull away for a 61-45 win.
Ansonia seemed out of sorts in the first quarter. Maybe it was the long bus ride. But the Tigers were not closing out on the Madison shooters on defense and shooting poorly on offense. It took a while for Ansonia to get going. The Mohawks took advantage of this lapse – scoring 19 points to Ansonia’s 10; 12 of those points were from 3-point shots.
One thing that the Tigers had problems with all night was rebounding. So when they did begin closing out on shooters in the second quarter, they were then giving out second- and third-chance shots to Madison. Still Ansonia closed the gap.
Trinity Henderson – who would be top scorer for Ansonia with 24 points – led a second quarter charge for the team by scoring 11 points herself as the Tigers bounced back and challenged the Mohawks. At halftime it was a 29-24 game, and the Tigers were firmly on their tail.
“Trinity’s an outstanding player,” Ansonia girls basketball coach Jim Bolin said. “She’s our point guard. She’s a great kid and good team leader. She never quits. She is like the Energizer Bunny – just keeps going.”
Madison, who had been pressing, switched to a two-three zone and played half-court ball. It was a 6-point game late in the quarter, but the Tigers had a lapse and let Lillie Runnell sink a buzzer-beating 3-point shot to put the Mohawk lead at double figures.
And this momentum shift carried over to the last quarter. The Mohawks found their shot and were driving home baskets again. Ansonia tried to match them but could not find the basket from behind the arc. Lastly Madison went back to the press, which caused Ansonia problems, giving up turnovers and slowing down the Tigers’ possessions. Ansonia would not find an answer as it faded in the last quarter for the loss.
“They had an aggressive ball club,” Bolin said of Madison. “They pressed well. They shot the ball well – really good shooters from the outside. They did a good of executing their cutting offense. They do everything it takes to be a good basketball team.
“Our kids came out cold today. It was a long ride, and we were out of school so maybe that was part of it. Anyway they just seemed out of rhythm. We were not ready to play at the start, but we played really well up until the end of the third quarter. I was proud of the way we fought our way back in it. But we went back and forth. We did four, five things good then do three, four things bad. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We had five or six stops in the start of the second half, but we couldn’t convert any of them. But they have a nice team, they rebounded well and did what you need to do to win a basketball game.”
Next up for the Tigers is a conference game against National Trail.
“They are scrappy like Middletown,” Bolin said. “They will get after you. They play a pressure defense. We match up with them fairly well. It’s going to be a dog fight. We expect a hard fought game.”
Scoring: Trinity Henderson 24, Bailey Stammen 4, Katie Werts 14, Kierra Reichert 1.