Essex takes seconds place in state championship

Redhawks still undefeated

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By Joe Cardello
The Essex Reporter

Essex had never lost to CVU in a girls’ basketball state final prior to the March 10 girls’ basketball showdown between the 2015 Hornets and undefeated Redhawks at Patrick gymnasium. Essex narrowly downed No. 2 St. Albans on March 5, but CVU’s determination to increase their streak to 71 straight wins put them in the winner’s seat on Tuesday evening.

The first period of play ended with a CVU lead 8-2. Essex took more than six minutes to put away their first basket and only took eight shots the entire quarter. Their tentative offense didn’t being to coagulate until the second quarter.

Three seconds into the second period Alexis Britch snagged an offensive rebound and put away the second Hornet basket. Taylor Traux laid down a mid-range jump shot a minute later. Essex freshman Olivia Duncan slipped in to steal the ball away from the Redhawks and was fouled on her attempt at the hoop. She went 1-2 from the line and closed the score gap to one point with seven minutes remaining in the half.

The Redhawks responded 30 seconds later with a 3-point shot delivered by Madison Randall.

By the end of the half CVU only led by four and the stats for both teams were relatively similar. Both teams had 20 shots from the field, 14 rebounds and three steals. Essex was struggling to hit the long-range buckets (0-3) and CVU had already landed two 3-point attempts.

Offensive rebounds and a string of shooting fouls were the downfall of the Hornets mid-way through the third quarter.

A long field goal from Cailtin Grasso followed by a Sadie Otley 3-pointer at 3:15 put the Redhawks up 24-17 in the third segment. Essex head coach Shawn Montague called for a 30-second timeout to address the lead CVU had perpetuated.

Traux’s second foul of the game came at 2:26 and sent CVU’s Amri Boyd to the free-throw line. Britch fouled Marley Gunn immediately following Boyd’s second shot. Gunn’s put-back attempt fell through the net and her attempt at a 3-point play unsuccessful. The ball fell to Redhawk Laurel Jaunich who netted two more CVU points and was fouled by Britch. After this dominant display the Redhawks led 29-17 with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter. Essex only put away two points in the entire period.

The Hornets never managed to significantly narrow the scoring gap and suffered a significant shooting percentage drop in the second half – 9.5 percent shooting accuracy compared to 35 percent in the first half. The Redhawks gobbled up an incredible 39 rebounds during the match and 20 points from inside the paint

CVU has become the third team in D-I girls’ basketball history to win three state titles in a row – their sixth overall.