Roller-coaster ride resets for Cadets

Coach Chris Lindwall’s St. Joseph High girls basketball team is headed to the Class LL state tournament after defeating Brien McMahon-Norwalk, 64-51, on Friday night at the Vito Montelli gym.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the Cadets, who got off to a 1-6 start before rebounding to go 8-12 on the year.

Five of the wins came in the last six games of the season.

“We had to win four of our last five games, and we knew Stamford, who we lost to on Tuesday, would be a tough game, because they’re a powerhouse,” Lindwall said. “But, we came out and got a win on Senior Night, which was a nice thing for these girls.”

McMahon looked strong in the first minute, as Kayla Croswell netted a layup on the opening jump ball, and the score teetered during much of the fast-paced first quarter.

Chloe Dudzinski scored St. Joseph’s first points and sank a rebound shot to keep pace with the Senators.

The Cadets finally took their first lead on a basket by Erin Johnson after a nice pass from Lauren Pitney.

Dudzinski added a two-point shot near the foul line, and Pitney was fouled while shooting a layup. She made the basket and the foul shot, taking the score to 11-4 with just over three and a half left in the opening period.

The scoring quieted down for a couple of minutes before Cadet senior Jenn Vazquez was fouled on a putback attempt. She made one of two foul shots, and sophomore Ana DoCarmo added a free throw with 11 seconds left to take the score to 13-7, where it stood at the end of the period.

St. Joseph continued its superior ball movement and aggressive board work, while stepping up its defense in the second quarter.

The Cadets got off to a fast start, with Mairead Donahue starting the scoring with a shot near the basket and Caitlin Sharnick sinking a 3-pointer that circled the rim before falling in.

Lauren Della Vecchia came right back with another 3-point shot, this one from the corner, to stretch St. Joseph’s lead to 21-7.

Donahue was fouled to put St. Joseph in the bonus with just over five and a half minutes left, and made both shots to boost the lead to 23-7.

Vazquez kept things going with a shot under the basket after a nice pass from DoCarmo, and Donahue made both shots on a foul during a fast break to the basket.

McMahon finally scored over halfway into the period, but St. Joseph continued the barrage of points with a trey from Della Vecchia and a two from Vazquez.

The Cadets outscored McMahon 19-6 in the quarter and took a comfortable 32-16 lead into halftime.

Dudzinski opened up the third period with a basket and Vazquez netted a hoop on a nice pass from Pitney.

Vazquez added shots at the 4- and 2-minute marks, before St. Joseph’s offense experienced a lull in the middle of the third frame.

Sharnick made a pair of free throws with a minute left, and Della Vecchia closed out the quarter with a two-point shot to take the score to 47-33.

Sharnick sank a 3-point shot from the corner to open the final period and break the 50-point mark for the Cadets.

The offense continued to roll at a slightly slower pace, with Vazquez netting a pair of shots and Johnson and Bridget Sharnick each chipping in a pair of free throws to stretch the score to 58-40.

Dudzinski scored with just over three minutes left, and Pitney and Caitlin Sharnick added two free throws to maintain a double-digit lead over the Senators.

“You know, you start with goals at the beginning of the season, and right at the top are making states and making FCIACs,” Lindwall said.

“We didn’t make FCIACs, but we made states and we’re proud of that.

“We had some rough parts and some injuries, but we played hard, and I’m proud of what we’ve done this year.”