St. Paul girls get mixed results against top two teams in NVL

The St. Paul girls’ basketball team has been tested this week.

Now there’s an understatement. The Falcons played the NVL’s top two teams in a three-day span. Happily for St. Paul, both games were inside the friendly confines of the Rev. Brian Monnerat Gymnasium.

St. Paul and its supporters would have loved to come away with two wins. Instead, the Falcons won one and lost one. St. Paul knocked off Holy Cross, 76-71, on Tuesday night, a game that ended a 57-game NVL win streak by the Crusaders. Ironically, the last loss before the streak was on Jan. 20, 2020, at St. Paul, a game the Falcons won, 53-50.

On Thursday, St. Paul struggled to get its offense going against Torrington and quickly fell behind. The Falcons charged back into the game by the end of the first quarter, but the visiting Raiders extended their lead to as much as 12 points in the third quarter on the way to a 48-40 victory. St. Paul fell to 10-5 overall with the loss.

Against Holy Cross, St. Paul was able to overcome a 34-point effort by Crusader senior star Mya Zaccagnini. The Falcons helped their own cause by making 22 of their 30 free throw attempts. Audrey Tice had a team-high 24 points and was joined in double figures by Rebecca Kelly (18) and Kelsea Tefoe (16).

Kelly was again St. Paul’s leading scorer against Torrington with 13 points. She was also the only Falcon to reach double figures. Haileigh Orzel added eight points while Tice and Zola Cudjoe chipped in six each. Tice appeared to get hit in the head inadvertently in the second quarter and wound up leaving the game for good after a short stint in the third quarter.

St. Paul is looking to maintain a spot in the top four of the eight-team NVL tournament bracket. The three teams ahead of the Falcons are Holy Cross, Torrington and Wolcott.

St. Paul hosts Naugatuck on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. as part of a girl-boy doubleheader. The girls game is a makeup of an earlier postponement. The Falcons close the regular season with games against Watertown, Derby, Wolcott and WCA.

Caption: St. Paul’s Haileigh Orzel puts up a shot in traffic during Thursday night’s home game against Torrington. The Falcons upended Holy Cross on Tuesday but lost to the Raiders on Thursday. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)