Barrientos Beats Buzzer As Bellringers Knock Off Huskies

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Pictured: East Hampton’s Hannah Barrientos, left, defends Morgan point guard Catie Donadio during the second half of Wednesday’s game in East Hampton.

By Paul Augeri
middlesexcountysports@gmail.com

EAST HAMPTON – Morgan and East Hampton were locked in a game of survival throughout Wednesday night’s opener of the 2021 girls basketball season. With some luck and a second-chance opportunity in the game’s two most critical moments, the Bellringers broke free.

Danielle Adams hit a 3-pointer from the right wing — and off the glass – at the regulation buzzer, and Hannah Barrientos put back her own miss in the final second of overtime to lift the defending Shoreline champs to a 38-37 win over the Huskies.

The game, a rematch of last year’s Shoreline tournament final, was played without fans, but the school’s livestream enabled the East Hampton faithful to experience the thrilling finish.

In the end, the experience of coach Shaun Russell’s five seniors – Adams, Barrientos, Angela Mercaldi, Mya Field and Meryl Curtin – won out.

“Those five guys have played almost 500 combined (varsity) basketball games. There’s not much we haven’t been through,” said Russell. “They’re able to draw on some of that experience but also that play-the-next-play mentality. Even when we got down five (27-22 early in the fourth quarter), they know you can’t score five points on the next possession.”

Morgan had a chance to ice the game in regulation, but senior Alex Kelly missed the back end of a one-and-one with 7.6 seconds left, leaving the Huskies with a 32-29 lead.

East Hampton got the rebound and pushed it up the floor. Adams had her back to the basket when she took a pass from Curtin and sped to the 3-point line.

“I know we needed a three and knew there were like three seconds. Usually Meryl (Curtin) is our top shooter, and she didn’t take the shot,” said Adams. “I didn’t know where I was on the court. I jumped out, the (defender) was right on me. I was just making sure I was at the line and just chucked it.”

“That shot by Danielle, a lot of that is instinctual and obviously some of that’s luck,” said Russell, “but to know the time and the score and the fact that she has to get three … some kids are going to take that 15-footer and make it and guess what, now you gotta shake hands because you just got beat.”

In overtime, East Hampton went ahead 36-35 on a steal and layup by Adams with 37 seconds left. Morgan took the lead back when Caeley Ayer scored underneath off a Catie Donadio feed with 14 seconds on the clock.

At the other end, Barrientos, who slashed her way to a 10-point night, drove from the left side and tried to finish on the right. She grabbed her own rebound, dribbled into the paint to create space and let it fly. The ball hit the cylinder with eight-tenths of a second left.

“I kind of just had the mindset that there wasn’t enough time to pass that ball back out and have someone shoot,” she said. “I held the ball so tight and just went up with it.”

Mercaldi led the Bellringers with 13 points. Donadio and sophomore Katie Martin led the Huskies with nine points apiece.

Morgan’s defense had a good night overall against East Hampton, while the Bellringers kept Morgan senior point guard Donadio in check. The big problem for both teams was finishing their shots, especially around the basket.

“I said to my kids, we were going to be up against it tonight no matter what tonight,” Morgan coach Caitlin Woods said. “All five return, they won the championship last year, we know how that went.

“We have to work to get better. We’ve got the best player in the Shoreline (Donadio) leading the charge. I’m very happy with how hard they played. We’ve just got to get better and not let stuff like (the tying and winning baskets) happen at the end of the game. I’m very happy with the way the kids played defense and executed. We didn’t finish when we needed to. We came up with that last bucket (in OT) and I thought, ‘this is it, we just have to contain them.’

“This was not the best way to start the season, but it definitely makes me confident that we’ll only get better from here.”

Mercaldi credited Morgan for its defensive performance while also noting that the Bellringers did not play up their potential as defending conference champs.

“I really thought it was also just us surviving ourselves,” she said. “It took a while to kick in and get going. We weren’t playing with each other in the beginning. The five of us are usually separated in practice, so we really haven’t been playing together a lot. This first game, we just had to adjust and survive.”

MORGAN (0-1)
Catie Donadio 3 3 9, Caeley Ayer 3 0 7, Katie Martin 3 3 9, Sofie Passante 1 0-0 2, Alex Kelly 4 2 10, Ava Johnson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 8 37.

EAST HAMPTON (1-0)
Meryl Curtin 1 0-0 2, Angela Mercaldi 5 1-3 13, Mya Field 3 2-8 8, Hannah Barrientos 5 0-2 10, Danielle Adams 2 0-0 5, Jackie Russell 0 0-0 0, Madison Yorker 0 0-0 0, Jordan Murphy 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 3-13 38.

Score By Quarters
M  9 5 8 10 5—37
EH 8 10 4 10 6—38

3-Pointers: M—Ayer 1; EH—Mercaldi 2, Adams 1.

More girls basketball results from the first night of the season:

Coginchaug 41, Old Lyme 22

COGINCHAUG (1-0)
Allison Sambor 1 0-0 3, Chloe Shafir 3 0-0 8, Katie Farr 1 0-0 2, Alyssa Woodward 1 0-0 2, Jessica Berens 9 0-0 18, Amalia DeMartino 1 0-0 2, Maura Zettergren 2 2-2 6, Serena Fournier 0 0-2 0. Totals 18 2-4 41.

OLD LYME (0-1)
Grace Lathrop 0 0-2 0, Emily DeRoehn 2 2-5 6, Alexis Fenton 2 0-0 6, Hayley Cann 1 0-0 2, Megan Loflin 0 2-2 2, Emma McCulloch 1 0-0 2. Totals 8 4-9 22.
3-Pointers: C—Shafir 2, Sambor 1; OL—Fenton 2.
Of note: Coginchaug’s Berens, who will play at Bryant University next season, had 19 rebounds to go with her 18 points.

Valley Regional 62, North Branford 40

NORTH BRANFORD (0-1)
Braeden Lebeau 7 2-8 16, Delaney Norman 2 0-0 4, Hanna Senerchia 0 2-2 2, Kaila Manner 1 0-0 2, Erica Piercey 1 0-4 2, Marissa Ricardo 0 2-2 5, Keana Crisculo 1 1-2 6, Elena Pearson 0 1-2 1, Natalia Lucibello 1 0-0 2 Totals: 12 8-20 40. 

VALLEY REGIONAL (1-0)
Ava Cunningham 1 2-4 5, Addi Marchese 2 0-0 6, Alena Crosby 5 1-2 14, Bitzy Klomp 1 0-0 2, Lily Grow 3 2-2 8, Abby Bradbury 7 2-6 18, Olivia Cunningham 2 0-0 4, Liz Allen 1 0-0 5. Totals: 14 7-14 62.
3-Pointers: NB–Ricardo 1, Crisculo 1; VR—A. Cunningham 1, Marchese 2, Crosby 3, Bradbury 2, Allen 1.

Cromwell 51, Haddam-Killingworth 37

H-K (0-1)
Kaleigh Bodak 5 3-3 13, Carly Rettberg 3 2-4 8, Payton Yazmer 3 0-1 6, Julia Favalora 1 0-0 3, Tessa Wills 1 1-2 3, Ella McGlynn 2 0-0 4. Totals: 15 6 37.

CROMWELL (1-0)
MaryKate Sullivan 6 3-4 16, Navaeh Clark 5 2-2 13, Jessica Grodzicki 6 0-2 12, Likhita Chanda 3 0-0 6, Adela Cecunjanin 1 0-0 2, Cameryn Hickey 0 1-2 1, Monica Dewey 0 1-2 1. Totals: 21 7 51.

Score By Quarters
HK  13 13 10 1—37
C  14 14 11 12—51
3-Pointers: HK—Favalora 1; C—Sullivan 1, Clark 1.
Of note: Bodak, a sophomore, added 9 rebounds and 3 steals for H-K .

Mercy 55, Cheshire 31

MERCY (1-0)
Avery Kohs 1 2-2 4, Sophie Hedge 6 0-0 16, Ava Giansiracusa 3 0-1 6, Jasmine Mendez 1 0-0 2, Lilly Hedge 7 1-2 17, Kate Donlan 1 0-0 2, Lauren Kohs 0 0-0 0, Lily Schoonmaker 1 0-0 2, Samantha Strell 1 0-0 2, Melina Ford 2 0-2 4, Bella Gonzalez 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 3-7 55.

CHESHIRE (0-1)
Amelia Perlini 1 0-1 2, Kaylee Clark 4 1-3 10, Jordan DiMatteo 0 2-4 2, Jenna Stickney 2 0-0 4, Ella Kulas 1 1-2 3, Tess Givens 1 2-2 4, Ella Watson 2 2-2 6. Totals: 11 8-14 31.

Score By Quarters
M  7 20 18 10—55
C  5 10 9 7—31

3-Pointers: M—S. Hedge 4, L. Hedge 2; C—Clark 1.