Conley leads Knights deep into state tourney
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington - posted Fri., Mar. 9, 2012
The Ellington girls' basketball team is one of the final four in the Class M tournament, with a showdown with a rival squad standing between them and a trip to the finals at Mohegan Sun. The Knights, the tourney's number 3-seed, dispatched with number 30-seed Weston in the first round, and then outlasted Trinity Catholic 49-40 in the second.
In the quarterfinal game vs. Waterford on March 5, the Knights jumped out to an early lead, with Kelly Conley looking almost unstoppable. Ellington made the most of Waterford miscues and easily converted layups and kick-out buckets in the first quarter, and continued that onslaught on both sides of the ball in the second, to go up 34-18 at the half.
Waterford's halftime talk had to be about double-teaming Conley, as the Lancers did just that, and climbed to within three of the Knights by the end of the third quarter.
Conley was fired up by the pressure and had 14 of Ellington's 17 points in the fourth quarter, as Ellington finished the 58-49 win. Conley led her team with 21 points. Junior Jessica Malone had 17, including three 3-pointers.
Coach Lauren Lovetere-Beeler said her team captain clearly lead the way. “Kelly Conley is a special player,” Lovetere-Beeler said, adding that Conley being held to just points in the first half is unusual, but “In the end of the third quarter, where she was fighting for the ball,” Lovetere-Beeler said, “she came off and she had that fire in her eyes, and I knew we'd be okay. When she gets that look, she just starts to take over.”
The coach said that while her team is pumped, they know they still have to prepare and practice. “We've got to work on settling into our offense a little bit, and...our press-breaker,” she said. “And we have to keep up our defense.”
Ellington will take on Tolland in the semi-final game on March 9. Conley is the only Knights player to have faced Tolland, when the senior was just a freshman.
“It will definitely be a challenge for us, and I think we're up to it,” Lovetere-Beeler said. “We know how to win.”