Eagles' season great despite finals loss
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland - posted Mon., Mar. 19, 2012
A season full of successes came just one game short of the ultimate goal for the Tolland Eagles, as they lost the class M final match vs. Weaver on March 16 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Tolland got the first points on the board and started well out of the gate, but Weaver had the edge in foul shots and used their quick transition game to take the first quarter lead, 16-11.
Team captain and Gatorade Player of the Year Kristen Schatzlein led the Eagles' scoring charge in the second quarter, sinking a 3-pointer to tie the game at 18 halfway through the second. After that, points were at a premium, as both teams found defensive rhythm while seemingly losing their offensive harmony, and the teams went into the locker rooms tied at 20.
Tolland took the lead in the third quarter, but let Weaver catch up with a few minor miscues. The Beavers took the ball away at crucial moments and pulled ahead, 36-27.
Schatzlein stayed cool and continued to sink threes to get the Eagles within five points with just over a minute to go, but Weaver stayed focused and disrupted the Eagles late and held on for the 55-47 win.
Coach Rocco Sansone said there was little that his team could have done better, and they were simply beaten by Weaver. “Nerves, I think, got to us in the course of the game,” Sansone said. “We played hard and we did what we were supposed to do, but the better team won today.”
For Sansone, it was the first trip to the finals, after four unsuccessful semi-final games, but while choked up about the loss, he was still full of pride for the players - especially senior starters Schatzlein, Jenna Lovett, Allie Gallo and Jessica Olson, who had played four years for him.
“I’m proud of this whole season,” he said. “I’ve got four seniors, and it’s kind of sad. I would have loved to have seen them win it. Now that it’s all said and done, it’s hard to watch them go out the door. They’ve been together for so long, I really just want them to end their career the way it started. We’ll cry now, but when we really sit down and breathe, they’ll realize that everybody at the school is proud of them, they got this far, and it was really a great year.”