South Windsor Falls to Lauralton Hall

When this group of seniors got to South Windsor High School, their goal was to get the school a state championship.

Unfortunately, the Bobcats fell just short of the goal with a 68-53 loss to Lauralton Hall in the Class LL state championship game at Mohegan Sun.

“They fell short, but they got us here,” said South Windsor coach Don Leclerc. “I believe they did the community, the team, and the school a lot of pride. They showed exactly what South Windsor was made of. Obviously we’re disappointed, but the big thing for us is that a lot of teams wish to get here.”

The Bobcats jumped out to an early 8-2 lead and held a 14-11 lead after the first quarter. With just under three minutes to go in the second quarter, Lauralton Hall tied the score at 21. The Crusaders then took the lead before South Windsor retied the game at 23.

At the half, Lauralton Hall led 26-23 and never looked back. After three quarters, the Crusaders held the 44-35 advantage.

In the fourth quarter, after being down by as many as 11, the Bobcats cut the lead to three, but couldn’t get any closer.

“I credit my team because they showed their resiliency that they showed all year,” said Leclerc. “They would not give up. They didn’t care if it was 10 points, 11 points, 12 points – they made that run back down. Unfortunately, [Lauralton Hall] got a couple of big calls, got a couple of baskets to put them up and increase that margin. I give a lot of credit to the girls because they just never quit.”

The big advantage for the Crusaders was the free throw line, where they hit 29 of their 41 attempts. The Bobcats made eight of 13 from the line.

“They won it from the free throw line,” said Leclerc. “They didn’t beat us on field goals, they literally won it from the free throw line. I told the girls before the game, this game is going to come down to the free throw line and sure enough, it did. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the free throw line.”

Emma McCarthy led the way for Lauralton Hall with 26 points. Carly Fabbri had 15 and Maggie Salandra had 14 for the Crusaders.

Olivia Bolden led the way for South Windsor with 17 points. Molly Murphy added 15 and Sara Jackson 11.

The Bobcats will graduate eight seniors – Bolden, Christina Rozie, Rebecca Karlins, Kristina Russo, Allie Hill, Emily Ryder, Kim Jackson, and Caitlin Labonte – but will return some experienced players.

“I like our chances next year,” said Leclerc. “We’re returning a lot of experience. I mean, it’s unfortunate that we’re graduating eight. You can’t replace that, all you can do is hope that girls are going to work on their game in the offseason and come back wanting to play next year. I think we’ve got the girls that want to do that.”

Leclerc couldn’t say enough good things about his team.

“I told the girls at the end that it’s a very special group of young ladies that I will remember for the rest of my life,” he said. “They’re a very resilient, determined group of young ladies and I think that transcends even beyond the basketball court. They’re going to be great student-athletes in the future, and great professionals.”

Click here to see a full gallery of the game.

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