Pictured: Abby Bradbury drills a long 3-pointer during Valley’s 75-33 quarterfinal win over Montville on Tuesday night in Deep River. (Photo by Lucille Augeri)
By Marc Silvestrini
DEEP RIVER — Up-tempo teams with plenty of fast players who run the floor well can sometimes leave slower teams that prefer to play a more deliberate game in the dust.
That’s exactly what happened to the Montville girls’ basketball team in their Class M CIAC tournament quarterfinal matchup against fifth-seeded Valley Regional Tuesday.
The quick, fast-breaking Warriors simply shifted their offense into a higher gear about five minutes into the game scoring the final 13 points of the first quarter and the final 19 points of the second quarter en route to a convincing 75-33 win.
“They’re a very fast team that likes to run,” Montville coach Rebecca Alfonso said. “Unfortunately, that’s just not our style and we ran out of gas chasing them up and down the floor. “They’re a hard team to defend with their three legitimate shooters.”
The win, which improved Valley’s record to 22-4 on the year, sets up a huge tournament semifinal game against undefeated and top-seeded Holy Cross of Waterbury on Monday at a neutral site to be determined. Holy Cross beat eighth-seeded New Fairfield 62-50 on Tuesday.
Montville, the tournament’s 20th seed, finished its season with a 13-11 record.
“We’re 100 percent ready for Holy Cross,” Valley’s Lily Grow said, adding that her team will head into Monday’s showdown off of a solid win against a pretty good team.
“We knew we had to come out strong tonight against this team,” she said. “So we just came out and everything we had worked on in practices all season long just came together for us. We stayed level-headed, we didn’t make a lot of mistakes and we did a good job of playing together as a team.”
When asked about her strong inside game against a big and sturdy opponent like Montville, Grow admitted that she doesn’t mind a tough, physical game.
“I do like to work hard underneath the basket,” she said.
With the score tied at 14 at the 3:19 mark of the opening quarter, Liz Allen, with five points, Grow, with four, and Abby Bradbury, with three, paced a 13-0 Valley run that vaulted the Warriors into a 27-14 lead after eight minutes of play.
A layup by Allen made it 29-14 early in the second quarter before Montville answered with four in a row on a bucket by Ava Collins and a pair of free throws by point guard Jada Cheung.
Unfortunately for the Indians, those were the only points they’d score in the quarter.
Bradbury scored five points and Olivia Cunningham and sisters Lily and Regan Grow each had four to lead a 19-0 Valley surge over the final 5:47 of the first half to give the Warriors a commanding 48-18 lead at the half.
Aiding the Warrior cause was the fact that Maya Hillman, Montville’s center and best all-around player, picked up her third personal foul early in the second quarter and played sparingly for the rest of the half.
“That didn’t help us much,” Alfonso said.
Hillman returned to the floor in the third quarter and paced the Indian attack with five points, but Valley still managed to outscore its guests 11-10 in the quarter to take a 60-29 lead into the final period.
The Indians could never draw closer than 29 points for the rest of the game.
Bradbury paced the Valley arrack with a 14-point night while Lily Grow, Allen and Olivia Cunningham each had 12 points. Regan Grow, a freshman, finished with eight points.
Cheung, also a freshman, had 14 for the Indians while Hillman chipped in with 11.
“We work on our transition offense a lot in practice because of our quickness, which we feel is one of our team’s greatest strengths,” Valley coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt said. “I think we play better when we’re moving the ball up and down the court as long as we remember to take care of the basketball and not get careless.”
“Montville is a good defensive team and I think our team speed and our transition game really made a difference tonight.”
Jada Cheung 3 8 14, Faith Terni 0 0 0, Alanis Michon 0 0 0, Ava Collins 2 0 4, Christyna Winstead 2 0 4, Nicole Hudson 0 0 0, Maya Hillman 2 7 11, Geneieve Johnston 0 0 0, Kayleigh Browne 0 0 0, Emily Treat 0 0 0, Allie Kondash 0 0 0, Katelyn Koning 0 0 0, Ariana Seldon 0 0 0, Grace Sanford 0 0 0: Totals: 9 15 33.
Ava Cunningham 2 2 7, Abby Bradbury 6 0 14, Bitzy Klomp 2 1 7, Liz Allen 4 2 12, Olivia Cunningham 5 2 12, Lily Grow 6 0 12, Sharmel Rivera 0 0 0, Siena Schaller 1 1 3, Regan Grow 4 0 8, Rubee Cecchini 0 0 0. Totals 30 8 75.
Montville…..14 4 11 4–33
Valley Reg..27 21 12 15–75