By KEN MORSE
The hardware is back in the Plainville High School trophy case.
On Thursday, the Lady Blue Devils ended a nine year drought winning the 19th annual Rybczyk Memorial Holiday Tournament for the first time since 2007.
Senior Amiyah Peters led a second half blitz dropping in 20 points in the 52-36 win over SMSA. The Blue Devils battled back from a three point first quarter deficit to gain a 28-24 lead at the half.
It was all Plainville in the second half as they outscored SMSA 24-12 to claim the title improving to 5-1 on the season. Junior Caitlin Barker 15 points and Isabel Lozefski 10 points provided the additional firepower.
Barker was named the tournament MVP and was selected for the All-Tournament team along with Peters. Senior Meghan Guimond won the sportsmanship award.
“We are a very fast team and we love to run,” said Barker. “As a team, we are very good at passing the ball around and I wouldn’t be scoring without them.”
“We push the other team as much as we can and go after the ball and that gets our offense going,” said Isabel Lozefski.
Plainville is entering unchartered waters already reaching the win total they put up last year.
The tournament began with a show of might in Wednesday’s 74-32 win over Bulkeley.
Four minutes into the game, six three pointers had rained down through the nets. The folks in Plainville may have seen their lights flickering but it wasn’t a utility problem, it was the Lady Blue Devils shooting the lights out.
By the time the first quarter had ended, it took Plainville just eight minutes to hang 30 points on the board. Bulkeley was hanging with the Blue Devils shot for shot until Isabel Lozefski (10 points, six steals) went on a tear scoring on three consecutive possessions to open a 19-11 advantage with 2:18 still left to play in the opening quarter.
“I have been here for four years and I haven’t seen anything like that,” said Guimond, about the 30 point first quarter. “I think the biggest difference this year is we are more of a family as a team. I’m not surprised at all, I kind of knew this could happen.”
What has made this team into the collective unit they have become is each piece of the puzzle utilizes their skill set to make the team that much better. Peters who led the team in scoring in the championship game didn’t score against Bulkeley but hauled away six rebounds and dished out four assists making her presence felt in the overall outcome.
Barker provided the spark as everything she threw at the backboard in the first quarter rippled the net as she led the way with 28 points (24 in the first half) to go along with five rebounds, three steals and three assists.
“The key was everyone touched the ball and everyone contributed,” said Plainville head coach Jess Neuweiler. “We wanted to control the tempo and we did that. The players off the bench came in and contributed and that will only make us stronger as we go forward.”
Freshman Tessa Susco scored four points with five assists and four steals and Kori Jones added three points and five rebounds. Krystyna Miller had six points four rebounds and three steals.
Plainville held a 17-11 second quarter advantage as they bolted out to a 47-24 lead at the half. A 15-2 third quarter ended any notion of a comeback by Bulkeley. Freshman Jaida Vasquez managed eight rebounds for a point guard as she went on to score eight points with four assists and four steals.
Junior Samantha Lozefski proved to be an effective weapon knocking down 15 points with eight assists. Sophomore Vanessa Xiques provided a staunch defensive effort allowing Bulkeley just eight points in the second half.
“This start that we’ve had has done exactly what I have been talking about in practice building a winning program,” added Neuweiler. “They are starting to see the hard work paying off and they are beginning to believe in themselves and each other. That confidence is what builds winning programs.”
Plainville was back in action on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at Southington.
PHOTOS by KEN MORSE