By MICHAEL LETENDRE
OAKDALE – With their first round game against Montville slipping away from the Plainville girls basketball team on Tuesday, Feb. 26, it would have been easy for the Blue Devils to call it a season.
Heck, Plainville missed 19 of its first 20 shots, managed only six free throws in the first half and weren’t getting any breaks out on the court.
But that’s not what makes up a Blue Devil.
Plainville showed a little guile to get back into the game against Montville and what was once a 17-point first half deficit was chopped down to ten, 29-19 to open the fourth and final period of play.
“You guys fought out of halftime,” Plainville coach Jen Micowski relayed to her players in between the third and fourth period breaks.
And there was genuine excitement on the bench about a possible comeback bid.
Plainville scored a total of 16 points in the fourth period and that was just three fewer than the Blue Devils collected over the first three quarters of the game.
And though a slow fourth period start ultimately doomed Plainville in the game, there wasn’t any quit as a late 11-3 run cut the deficit to 38-33 with 20 seconds remaining.
“They haven’t given up at any time of the season and that’s what we ask for,” said Micowski. “We ask (the players) to compete every day and not to give in.”
And that’s a credit to Plainville’s senior core of Carly Martino, Katy Dressel, and Kelly Slabinski – three of the squad’s four captains – as those leaders, along with Kelsey Clemens, Stephanie Martino and Deja Nolan, made a real run at the higher rated team.
And by the time the game was completed, Plainville left the Indians a battered and bruised team.
The Blue Devils’ defense was tight most of the showdown and even when Montville held a late lead – a significant edge down the stretch – the Indians were rushing shots up the floor, missing critical free throws and showed more than a little panic in crutch time.
One or two additional hoops throughout the game might had ultimately turned the tide of the fray for Plainville.
And even when 6-foot-2 Cassidy Bundy was manning the paint on defense, Plainville attacked the center with zest and eventually, while those inside misses didn’t help, she picked up fouls at critical times and eventually was disqualified at the worst possible time for the Indians.
So maybe it wasn’t the best shooting performance by the Blue Devils and maybe a couple of loose balls didn’t go Plainville’s collective way.
But at the end of the day, the Blue Devils could hold their heads up high as Montville truly had to sweat this thing out to squeeze out a win.
That’s what Blue Devil pride is all about and it was on display from start to finish.
“We could have easily packed it in at halftime and lost this game by 25,” said Micowski of the Montville showdown. “But we decided we were going to come out and battle with our defense.”
And that defense closed the gap late and though Plainville lost the game by seven points, the Indians almost fell to the Blue Devils.