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Wolcott Tech girls earn gut-check win over Platt Tech. Story by John Nestor.
Wolcott Tech girls basketball standout, Breanna Bodnar, brings the ball up during the Wildcats 52-49 win over visiting Platt Tech on Wednesday night in Torrington. Bodnar had 14 points in the win.
TORRINGTON - The Wolcott Tech girls basketball team isn't used to handling success but has had plenty of practice dealing with adversity. On Wednesday night the Wildcats dealt with both and added another victory to an already historic season.
Ashley Laliberte and Jennifer Hislop both scored 16 points and Breanna Bodnar added 14 as Wolcott Tech overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to post a thrilling 52-49 victory over Platt Tech in a Constitution State Conference matchup.
The win was Wolcott Tech's ninth of the season, tremendous considering the Wildcats were 0-20 in each of the last two season's. with their win over Whitney Tech on Friday, Wolcott Tech had clinched its first state tournament berth in 30 years.
Now the Wildcats are in uncharted territory, playing for a good tournament seed and a conference title and they got a game from Platt Tech that will pay off down the road.
With guards Alyssa Donovan (23 points) and Camilliea Collier (18 points) and 6-5 center Aaliya Bohannon, the Lady Panthers presented a number of challenges for the Wildcats. For a while it looked like it might be too much for Wolcott Tech, especially in the third quarter.
Platt came out of the lockerroom and went on an 8-0 run to take a 30-22 lead. Collier scored five points in the burst that was halted by a three-point play by Bodnar. The lady Panthers then reeled off another six points and stretched the lead to 11. Wolcott Tech got the deficit down to 41-34 entering the fourth and just never stopped fighting.
While Platt Tech outscored Wolcott Tech 19-12 in the third quarter, the fourth belonged to the Wildcats. Bodnar capped a 7-0 run with a steal and a layup to tie the game, 47-47, with 2:08 to play. After the Panthers made two free throws around a Wilcdcat miss, Bodnar again came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup to make it 49-49.
Laliberte followed up with a steal and was fouled by Collier, her fifth. Laliberte stepped to the line and coolly drained both free throws with 1:08 to play to give the Wildcats a 51-49 lead.
Despite Platt Tech's size advantage Wolcott Tech was not intimidated, especially Hislop, who repeatedly pounded the boards and found room to operate inside. On Platt Tech's next possession, Hislop pulled down a big rebound and Laliberte made one of two from the line to put the Wildcats up 52-49 with 35 seconds to go.
"I just looked up at the scoreboard and saw how close it was and just said to myself 'I am not losing, I refuse," Hislop said. "I was ready to do anything to get us the win."
Hislop then made another clutch play, tying up Platt's Brook Pawlak for a jump ball which went to the Wildcats. Wolcott Tech missed two free throws that could have iced it, but with Donovan and Collier both having fouled out, the Panthers jacked up a long three that missed long and the Wildcats were able to run out the clock for a huge win.
It was just the kind of win Wolcott Tech needed after coming out flat in a loss to old Berkshire League rival Shepaug on Tuesday. It was also the type of tense, taut game that the Wildcats will likely have to pull out down the road if they want to have success in the league and state tournaments.
That Wolcott Tech is even talking about tournaments and titles is a testament to coach Brian Hurlock, who has now taken five different teams to the state tournament in his 20 years as a coach. Hurlock was quick to credit the team for the accomplshments so far but also said thet remain hungry.
"They are really coachable. They want to learn and they want to get better," Hurlock said. "This is the kind of win we can get confidence from. We can build off of that."
Platt Tech enetered Wednesday's game having won seven straight and presented a huge test for Wolcott Tech, especially considering the Wildcats were handled pretty easily by Shepaug the night before.
But the effort the Wildcats gave Hurlock Wednesday and their resolve to win showed just how far the team and program have come.
"Last night we just ran into a brick wall and after I said 'girls, you are 8-3, put that game behind you'," Hurlock said. "In the past we would have brought that game with us tonight and it would have affected us. Instead we came out and took their best punch and responded."
And that different attitude has helped Wolcott Tech achieve different results, positive results, and it feels pretty good to be a Wildcat these days.
"It feels good, to have the focus be on us winning is great," Bodnar said.
"It's like a dream," Hislop said. "We went from losing to now being on top, it's incredible."
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