By KEN MORSE
The Plainville girls basketball team had a lot to celebrate as senior Caitlin Barker broke the 1,000-point career mark on Jan 16 in a game against East Hartford. Fans held up signs with 1,000 written on them to commemorate the occasion.
The game at the Ivan Wood Gymnasium was held up so Barker could be honored for her feat. Her name will be added to the banner that hangs on the wall at the far end of the gym that has the other nine players who have broken the coveted mark.
It was a bittersweet moment for the Blue Devils. East Hartford stormed back in the final quarter to take a slim 52-51 decision over the Blue Devils. Barker knocked down 32 points as the Blue Devils took a 39-36 lead into the fourth quarter against the 8-2 Hornets.
The turnovers finally took a toll as Plainville committed 28 miscues including seven in the decisive final eight minutes. Two quick traveling violations handed East Hartford a 44-40 lead with 5:19 left.
Sam Lozefski (4 assists, 4 steals) threaded a pass through three defenders in the lane finding Barker on the baseline for a layup off the window cutting the deficit to a basket.
A couple of more turnovers led the Hornets to a 49-44 advantage until Jaida Vasquez (11 points, 10 rebounds) went to work. The sophomore sensation drove the lane for a bucket and then took a pass form Barker and threw up a one handed fling at the basket that somehow rippled the net making it a 49-48 game with 1:06 remaining.
The Hornets pushed the lead out to 52-48 with 21 seconds left. Barker threw down a three-pointer with one tick left for the 52-51 final margin.
It marked the fourth time Plainville surrendered a game in the final minutes this season losing by 1-2-3 and 4 points including three tough setbacks last week.
The Blue Devils picked up their eighth win of the season to qualify for the state tournament on Jan 11 in a 50-33 win over Tolland. Then came a 46-42 loss to South Windsor on Monday Jan 14, a one point loss to East Hartford and a 72-59 loss to NW Catholic on Saturday, Jan 19.
Barker scored a season high 33 points in the win over Tolland with Vasquez chipping in with seven points and Lozefski adding five points. Barker led the way with 18 points in the loss to South Windsor, Kori Jones had nine points, Vasquez five points, Lozefski and Elena Gorneault four points each.
The slide reached three games in a row as Plainville feel to 8-6 on the season in the loss to NW Catholic. Barker hit for 22 points, Vasquez 16 points and Lozefski 12 points. Gorneault added five points and Krystyna Miller chipped in with four points.
“I think the thing we are forgetting is we are still a very young team,” said Plainville head coach Jessica Neuweiler. “Not trying to make excuses but we have only two seniors, two juniors and the rest are sophomores and freshman.”
“We need to learn how to finish those close ones. After making the state tournament two years in a row you kind of forget how young they are. We are making mistakes late in the game.”
“A stop here, a rebound there, taking better care of the ball down the stretch. These are all things that could have very well put four of those losses in the win column.”
The road gets a little steeper with Plainville taking on 11-1 Windsor at home on Thursday. Then comes an away game at Platt next Tuesday followed by a home game on Friday Feb 1 hosting Middletown.