In a match much closer than the score indicates, the Windsor girls’ basketball team advanced to the finals after outlasting Simsbury, 41-32, in the CCC Division I semifinal match on March 24.
Simsbury jumped out to a small lead early in the first quarter, but Windsor caught up quickly and traded leads several times throughout the game.
It wasn’t until approximately 2:35 left in the fourth quarter when Windsor grabbed a 36-30 lead after a three-point shot by senior Jaidaa Tahoun and was able to hold on until the end.
Coach Kirk Murad said key to the game, especially late, was to get the ball in the reliable hands of freshman phenom Ayanna Franks.
“We needed Ayanna to be a superstar down the stretch, and that’s what she did,” he said. “The whole idea was, after Tahoun made the three, was to get the ball to Ayanna and Rebecca [Fraley] over on the side. Ayanna played great. I think she and Rebecca were trying too hard in the beginning, but we made a few better plays down the stretch than they did.”
Franks had 20 points. Fraley scored 10. Lauren Sabia lead the Trojans with eight, followed by Mary McElroy with seven.
High praise for the Trojans came from the Windsor coach, as well.
“We knew coming in that Simsbury was the hottest team around,” he said. “They’re so superbly well coached. They don’t turn the ball over a lot, and we really thrive on people turning it over, so we had a tough time just getting going.
Simsbury coach Sam Zullo said his team had a terrific year, except when they played Windsor.
“These guys had our number this year,” he said. “We ended up 12-2 and both losses were to Windsor. We did pretty well against everyone else.”
Zullo had high praise for Fraley.
“I think she’s the best point guard in the state. We threw everything we had at her. She stayed poised on every possession, stayed calm the whole game, and put us in really tough positions,” he said. “We kind of felt like we were on our heels on defense, just defending her, the whole game.”
Zullo said his team worked very hard, and his seniors, many of whom are four-year players, are one of the best classes he has coached.
“They worked so hard, especially the year everyone has gone through,” he said.
For complete schedules, visit ciacsports.com.