Lady Eagles hope third time will be the charm vs. E.O. Smith
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland - posted Thu., Feb. 16, 2012
Tolland's Lady Eagles had a chance to get vengeance on the team that gave them their only regular season blemish. E.O. Smith handed a loss to Tolland on Jan. 19 in Mansfield, and on Feb. 13, the Eagles looked like they had redemption on tap, until the Panthers got a late surge to make their undefeated season complete.
The scoring started strangely, with the first points not coming until more than three minutes into the game. Tolland started with a 7-0 run, but then Smith came back with 9 unanswered points to close out the first quarter.
There was much more give-and-take in the second, and Smith was up as much as four, but Tolland came back within one to make it 20-19 at the half.
Tolland's offense started clicking in the third, and took the lead until late in the fourth, when E.O. Smith's offense also shifted gears and took the lead with just over two minutes remaining, and held on for the 47-41 win.
Tolland coach Rocco Sansone was quick to put the game behind him and his team, and prepare for the post-season. “It would have been a nice win,” he said, “but as I told the girls from the start, it would have been nice to win the CCC East, but your goal is to win the state title. If we win the state title and go 18-2, no one is going to remember who we lost to.”
Sansone said the loss does little for the Eagles' seeding in the tournament, but may make a third game with Smith more likely – something he would welcome.
“I think we're so evenly matched, I think the winner of this game loses in the semi-finals,” he said. “If I've got to win one, I'll take the league semi-finals.”
Sansone said he felt like his team could play better than they did, but still managed to keep Smith's offense in check, holding them to 47 points when they average more than 68 points per game. He added that the team is still mentally prepared for the post-season, and won't dwell on the loss.
“You can't mope,” he said. “I'm not worried. We've just got to come back in the gym and go to practice as if that game never happened. We'll never talk about that game again. If you're going to lose, it might as well be to the number one team.”