GLASTONBURY – E.O. Smith’s girls basketball team was, perhaps, an unlikely candidate to defend its CCC title on Thursday night.
But the No. 14-seeded Panthers did just that, advancing to the CCC final with a strong defensive presence to top No. 10 Conard 57-28. E.O. Smith went on to win the CCC tournaemnt with a 42-28 victory over No. 4 seed East Catholic.
“We really have worked hard since December to create from our defense, to run with an attitude, if we have the transition take it, if not then to smartly move the ball,” E.O. Smith coach Mary Roickle said.
“These ladies play for each other. We say we play for E.O., we play for each other and they just demonstrated that in every way possible. It was just a very good game today for this time.”
Thanks to a dominant first quarter, after which the Panthers led by 10, E.O Smith upped the pressure on defense and held Conard to just three points in the second quarter to take a commanding 29-10 lead at the break.
“I think we were just more relaxed, we weren’t as nervous after the first couple of minutes,” E.O. Smith senior Courtney Doherty said. “We found our groove and were able to hit those open shots.”
Ella DiPippo led Conard with 11 points and Azayiah Felder added eight points for Conard, which earned the No. 12 seed in the Class LL state tournament and played host to No. 21 New Britain Monday.