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Article Published March 20, 2021

Tigers Roar to a Convincing Win in SCC Quarterfinals

By By Dean Bibens

The Hand girls’ basketball team opened up the SCC Division I Tournament by picking up right where it had left off following the conclusion of the regular season. After winning 11 games in regular-season play, the Tigers claimed a convincing 72-48 victory versus Hillhouse in the SCC tourney quarterfinals last week.

Hand, which has won seven games in a row and is 12-1 overall, is facing Wilbur Cross in the semifinals this week.

No. 2 seed Hand put forth a dominant performance when the team defeated 10th-seeded Hillhouse in the SCC quarters on March 19. Hand jumped out to a 26-8 first-quarter lead and then outscored Hillhouse in both the second (16-11) and third (20-8) quarters to take a 62-27 advantage into the fourth.

The Tigers outrebounded Hillhouse 34-20 and held their opponent to 39 percent shooting from the field in the victory. Hand shot 51 percent from the field overall and hit on 54 percent of its attempts from 3-point range.

“I thought we shot the ball really well against Hillhouse. Even more importantly, we shared the ball well,” Head Coach Tim Tredwell said. “We looked for each other, made the extra pass, and kids were shooting confidently. It’s really fun to have a team that has so many options on both ends of the floor.”

Junior forward Brooke Salutari turned in one of her best performances of the season by scoring 19 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists for the Tigers. Junior Sophia Coppola also had a big game by netting 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Senior captain Hadley Houghton added 15 points to help Hand prevail. Sophomore Natalie Lucas scored nine points, while senior captain Maddie Thomas, sophomore Coco Rourke, and sophomore Maya Blomberg added four points apiece for Coach Tredwell’s team.

“Brooke played her most complete game of the season, and Soph continued her stellar play. Maddie is providing outstanding leadership, and Hadley looked like she’s back to 100 percent after missing 10 days to quarantine,” said Tredwell. “It’s also great to know we have three sophomores contributing at such a high level. Maya is a pest defensively, Natalie is shooting the ball great, and Coco makes plays all over the floor.”

With its quarterfinal victory in the books, Hand advanced to play No. 3 seed Wilbur Cross at home in the semifinals of the SCC Division I Tournament on March 22 (after press time). With a win, the Tigers would face the winner of top-seeded Sheehan and No. 4 Hamden in the championship game on Thursday, March 25.

Coach Tredwell said that Wilbur Cross will be the Tigers’ most difficult matchup of the season.

“They’re loaded. They are experienced, talented, and big. I’m not sure why they haven’t been getting the hype Sheehan has been getting,” said Tredwell. “Our game-plan is to be hyperactive and loud on the defensive end. We want to try to limit their paint touches and second shots. Offensively, we need to stay spaced and composed, as well as cut hard and be strong with the ball and, most importantly, be ourselves.”

Prior to playing in SCCs, Hand claimed a 68-19 home win over Guilford in its March 15. regular-season finale. The Tigers were up 17-9 after the first quarter and held a 38-11 halftime advantage. Hand went on to outscore Guilford in both the third (14-5) and fourth (16-3) quarters to pull away for the 49-point win.

Thomas scored 15 points, while Salutari and Coppola each had 13 points for the Tigers. Lucas scored 11 points in the victory. Houghton and Rourke chipped in with four points apiece.