Holy Cross girls look to complete undefeated season with state title

The top-seeded Holy Cross girls basketball team has faced 26 challenges and passed all 26. The 27th and final challenge is the biggest one of all.

The Crusaders play second-seeded Bacon Academy-Colchester (23-3) in the Class M state championship game on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Bobcats are led by senior Valerie Liuzzi and junior Marissa Nudd, who were both All-ECC Division I tournament performers.

Holy Cross and Bacon Academy are both playing in their first state title game since 2017. The Crusaders played in Class L and the Bobcats were in Class M. Both teams lost those 2017 championship games. Bacon Academy is 2-4 in state title games while Holy Cross is 1-4.

“We’ve been working really hard all year, day in and day out, and (getting to the final is) what we’ve been focusing on since the first day of practice,” said Holy Cross junior Mya Zaccagnini during a Zoom session hosted by the CIAC on Tuesday. “It’s definitely exciting.”

“We just feed off of each other’s energy so well. We depend on each other, we know we can count on each other, we trust each other,” said Crusader senior Cayla Howard about playing with Zaccagnini. “We also trust our other teammates. We know if one of us isn’t able to put the ball in the hoop, we can count on the other to be successful.”

Senior Nyasia Smith joined Howard and Zaccagnini on the Zoom call. Holy Cross coach Frank Lombardo said an undefeated season wasn’t the team’s focus.

“We were just trying to get better and better with some new players this year,” Lombardo said.

For Lombardo, emphasizing tradition is important, including playing for those who came before you. It’s been five years since Holy Cross’ last state final appearance, 15 years since its lone state championship.

“As a team, we’re really excited. This is a big accomplishment for us,” Howard said.

Photo caption: Senior Nyasia Smith hopes to help her Holy Cross team capture the state championship on Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Arena. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, file)