Canes Catch Cosmos

Springfield, Vt. — Hartford, which lost its first three games and has had a hard time scoring, took care of both problems Monday night at the Springfield Girls Holiday Tourney with a 50-43 win over the host Cosmos.

It was also a relief for Hurricane coach Billy Soule, who has been filling in while Ed Kehoe works on a health issue and looking for a walk down victory lane.

“Yes, it was nice to get that first win,” said Soule, who felt the triumph was a reflection of what has been going on in practice recently. “We picked up the intensity in practice last week, and I think it showed here tonight.”

Hartford will meet Rice in the championship game of the tourney Saturday night at 7:30. Rice was a 46-28 winner over Brattleboro in the night’s other contest. The Colonels and Cosmos will play in the consolation game on Saturday at 5:30.

While Hartford (1-3) was taking it from the practice floor to the game court, that was not the same course the 2-3 Cosmos took. “We’re just not doing the things we do in practice on game day,” said Springfield coach Joe Brown, who was bummed out because his Cosmos let a fourth-quarter lead get away.

“We’re young, but we have to have some people step up, and we’re not doing that,” Brown said. “We’re not playing as a team.”

As it was, it was not a very big team. The Cosmos dressed just eight players Monday.

When Springfield’s Diamond Bruso got a put-back hoop to start the fourth quarter, the Cosmos had a 36-31 lead. However, it went all downhill after that for the Cosmos, who were outscored the rest of the way 19-7.

And it was a host of Hurricanes who led the fourth-quarter charge. First, Alexis Johnson nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 36-36. Then when Springfield went back in front 41-39, Taylor Johnson hit a long 3-point bomb and the Canes went up 42-41, never trailing after that.

A concern all night for the Hurricanes was Springfield sharpshooter Chelsea McAllister, who is closing in on 1,000 career points.

McAllister had just five points in the first half but finished with 21, buoyed by a seven-point fourth quarter as she battled to keep her team in the game. Hartford used a box-and-one defense against her, with the Canes’ Paige Kehoe and Alexis Johnson sharing the duties keeping McAllister under control.

“I think we made her work for her points,” said Soule.

Hartford, which had not scored more than 35 points in its first three games, looked like it was going to have another low-scoring night when the Hurricanes fell behind 8-2 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.

However, Hartford used a run to close out the quarter at 9-9. It was that close of a game the rest of the night until Hartford pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Hartford’s Heather Illingworth was both a force on the boards and on offense, playing stady all night in a team-leading 18-point performance.