Three Hornets competed at the State Open Championship and all three came away with at least two victories at Floyd Little Athletic Center on Feb. 26 and 27. Junior Willie Gambardella won four matches en route to placing sixth in the 120-pound weight class, fellow junior Noah Pantani gained two victories in the 113 class, while freshman Jackson Seward prevailed twice at 195.
Gambardella started by winning a 15-0 decision against Wethersfield’s Enrique Flores and then won 7-2 over Matt Foster from Norwich Free Academy. Following a 6-0 defeat to Melquisedec Ortiz from New Milford, Gambardella claimed victory in two consolation matches by beating both Avon’s Anthony Trifoldi and Amity’s Jake Cala by 2-0 decisions. Gambardella then was pinned in 2:06 by Danbury’s Mike Fields, after which he took a 4-2 loss against Shaun Wagner of Southington in the 5-6 bout to finish in sixth.
Pantani was triumphant his first two bouts by posting a 7-0 win over Haddam-Killingworth’s Malakai Maher and a convincing 14-4 victory versus New Milford’s Colin Lindner. After that, Pantani lost via pin at the 3:37 mark against Windham’s Julio Javier Flores and dropped a 9-7 contest to Chandler Duhaime of Shelton.
Seward pinned Weston’s Josh Lachs in just 1:37 for his opening match and then lost by pin at 3:05 against Jackson Rheault form Somers. Seward came back in the consolation to thwart Justin Garden of New Milford by a 5-3 count and then was pinned by Lee Stenild-Johanson of Fairfield Ludlowe at the 3:57 mark.
Boys’ Ice Hockey
The Hornets lost two of their three games last week, but the one victory was enough to qualify Adolph Brink’s club for the Division II State Tournament.
Branford began the week by losing a 6-3 contest at home against SCC/SWC Division III opponent Lyman Hall/Haddam-Killingworth/Coginchaug on Feb. 24.
The next night, the Hornets punched their state tourney ticket by notching a 3-2 victory at fellow SCC/SWC DII squad New Milford at the Canterbury School.
Then hosting division rival East Haven at Northford Ice Pavilion on Feb. 27, Branford was defeated 5-3 to move to 8-10-1 on the season.
Branford finished its regular season with a record of 8-12 following a 53-48 home loss to Shelton on Feb. 22. Three nights later, the 11th-seeded Hornets played at No. 6 Xavier in the first round of the SCC Tournament and dropped a 59-44 decision. Branford will next compete in the Class L State Tournament that gets underway this week.