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Alexis Finnerty made a triumphant return to the court by scoring 30 points to help the Valley Regional girls’ basketball team qualify for the Class M State Tournament with a 59-35 win versus Westbrook on Feb. 11. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
In a week full of wins for Valley boys’ hoops, Ernest Jean-Pierre had 15 points and three steals in the Warriors’ 76-62 victory over Morgan on Feb. 9. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Addie Byars took fifth place in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:54.87 at the Class S State Championship on Feb. 10. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The Valley Regional girls’ basketball team played four recent games and earned the win that they needed to qualify for states in the final contest of that stretch by defeating Westbrook on Feb. 11. The Warriors hosted Westbrook for a Sunday showdown last week and notched a 59-35 victory versus the Knights to secure their place in the Class M State Tournament, while improving to 8-10 on the season.
Valley staked itself to 21-11 lead on the strength of some hard-nosed defense that resulted in the Knights only mustering two points in the second quarter. The Warriors expanded their lead in both the third and fourth quarters to go on to the 59-35 win.
Valley was boosted by having Alexis Finnerty in the lineup for the first time in several games, and she made a big-time return by dropping 30 points and swiping five steals on the night. Heidi Clark provided eight points, and Addison Marchese had four assists and four points for the Warriors. Annie Cooper was a rebounding force by drawing in 11 boards to go with ablock. Carly Thompson had four points, five rebounds, an assist, and a steal in the victory.
Earlier in the week, on Feb. 5, Valley headed to Haddam-Killingworth to match up with the Cougars and took a 60-41 defeat. H-K took a 16-6 lead in the first quarter, but then Sadie Konstan made three 3-pointers to help the Warriors close the gap to 26-22 at halftime. In the third quarter, Haddam-Killingworth extended its lead and went on to get the 10-point victory.
Despite the loss, Paige Atkinson had a strong showing by scoring a career-high 17 points to complement her five rebounds. Konstan’s three 3-pointers accounted for her nine points on the night to go with three rebounds and two assists.
On Feb. 8, Valley was in Clinton to face Morgan and lost 43-31. In the first quarter, the Huskies’ defense stifled the Warriors as they took a 12-3 lead that they extended to 22-8 by the half. Atkinson had eight points and five rebounds, while freshman Alena Crosby also scored eight points.
The next day, the Warriors had a game Portland and dropped a 44-31 decision. Valley fell behind 17-6 in the first quarter and was unable to make up the deficit. Thompson had 11 points, three blocks, and four rebounds, and Cooper hauled in 11 rebounds to go with six points and five assists.
The Warriors’ boys’ basketball squad played three games in last week’s action and won all of them to improve to 11-5 on the year. Valley defeated Haddam-Killingworth, Morgan, and Creed to sweep its week. The team has now won five games in a row and 10 of its last 11.
On Feb. 6, the Warriors hosted Haddam-Killingworth and defeated the Cougars 73-40. Valley leaped out to a fast start in the first quarter by scoring 19 points to H-K’s six. By halftime, the Warriors led the Cougars 38-17 on their way to the comfortable victory.
Mitch Holdmeyer scored 17 points for the Warriors, and he also pulled down 14 rebounds to go with two steals and an assist. Colin Sparaco added nine points and five rebounds, Ernest Jean-Pierre had eight points, seven rebounds, two steals, and an assist; and Kevin Fasulo scored eight to go with four boards and a steal.
Valley Head Coach Kevin Woods was pleased with the way his team kept its foot on the gas to prevent the Cougars from having any chance at a comeback.
“What I really liked about this game was how we started. We were up 10-0 against a struggling team that will be good in the future,” said Woods. “We never let them get into the game or be optimistic. We did what we were supposed to do. It’s easy it to lose focus and look too far ahead.”
On Feb. 9, Valley squared off against Morgan at home and prevailed 76-62. Morgan held a one-point edge after the first quarter at 19-18 and, after two, the game was tied 31-31. In the second half, the Warriors flipped the switch by outscoring the Huskies 25-8 in the third en route to the 14-point victory.
Holdmeyer had a huge night by recording 23 points, 17 boards, two steals, and two assists for the Warriors. Weinstein had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Sparaco provided 15 points. Jean-Pierre added 15 points and three steals, while Cade Ensinger had six rebounds, four assists, and three steals in the win.
Coach Woods said the Warriors didn’t have everything going for them at the start of the game. However, by the second half, he felt they were locked in and ready to win behind Sparaco and Holdmeyer’s scoring efforts.
“To start the second half, we came out firing on all cylinders. It was led by great shooting by Colin, and Mitch Holdmeyer just continues to dominate inside,” said Woods. “A team can play great defense and force us to miss a shot, but he’s right there to clean up and score the basket.”
The next day, the Warriors hosted Creed and secured their third victory on the week by the final of 60-50. Valley started with early lead in the first quarter at 20-9 and held steady the remainder of the game to get the win. The Howling Wolves had no answer for Holdmeyer, who went off for 25 points, while securing 14 rebounds and handing out two assists. Ben Weinstein was also a major presence in the paint by grabbing 10 boards to go with six points, six assists, and two steals. Sparaco scored 12 points, and Zach Stevens had seven assists on the night.
With another great week, the Warriors continue to prove that they’re a strong team, although Coach Woods believes that they still have room to get better.
“We still can improve. That’s the scary thing. We’re not playing our best basketball yet,” Woods said. “If we keep getting better something special can happen.”
Girls’ Indoor Track
Senior Addie Byars earned two points for the Warriors when she finished fifth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:54.87 at the Class S State Championship on Feb. 10. Byars also ran the 1,600 at states and took ninth place behind a mark of 5:43.54.
Also in the meet, the Warriors’ quartet of Lexi Ross, Audrey Lenda, Hanna Babek, and Leah Bargnesi came in 21st place in the 4x200 relay behind a time of 1:59.85. Ross also finished 38th in the preliminaries of the 55-meter dash with a time of 8.17 seconds.
Boys’ Indoor Track
Senior Josh Donahue competed for Valley at the Class S State Championship and finished tied for 10th place in the high jump by clearing 5 feet-6 inches last week.
Junior Nick Braga placed 10th for the preliminaries of the 55-meter dash by timing in at 6.85 seconds for the Warriors.
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