Falcons, Crusaders to meet in another NVL girls tournament final

The St. Paul and Holy Cross girls basketball teams rolled through their Naugatuck Valley League tournament semifinal games Monday at Naugatuck High School.

The end result is a rematch of last year’s NVL championship game, which the Falcons won, 51-47. St. Paul has won NVL tournament titles three times, all against Holy Cross (2017, 2019, 2023). This year’s NVL final between the tournament’s top seeds is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Naugatuck. 

Holy Cross won the first meeting between the teams this season in convincing fashion, 64-36, in Bristol. The Falcons were healthier, and closer, against the Crusaders in their rematch in Waterbury, with the home team pulling away late for a 53-42 win.

To get to this year’s final, top-seeded Holy Cross blasted Woodland, 83-31, then dominated Seymour, 80-49. St. Paul had to hold off a hard-charging Torrington, 48-41, in its first game of the tournament before using its height advantage to take out Watertown, 50-28.

Holy Cross has been led on offense in this NVL tournament by the terrific 1-2 punch of Corinne Lomax and Shania Howard. Each scored 20 points in the victory over Woodland. In the win over Watertown, Lomax had a triple-double of 26 points, 14 steals and 11 rebounds, according to stats posted by the team’s X account. Howard tallied 25 points and eight steals. Rachel Healey added nine points and Isabella Oliver contributed eight.

St. Paul used its supreme height advantage – Rebecca Kelly (6-foot-1), Zola Cudjoe (6-1) and Ava Stevenson (6-2) to overwhelm Watertown. The three nearly recorded a trio of double-doubles. Cudjoe had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Stevenson tallied nine and 11, and Kelly recorded nine and 10. Audrey Tice had a team-high 17 points.

If St. Paul wants to repeat as NVL champion, it will need another big game from Tice, last year’s tournament MVP. The Falcons also need to control the boards and limit the fast break opportunities of the Crusaders, who love to run, whether it’s Howard, Lomax or Oliver leading the break.

Holy Cross needs to keep playing with the same intensity it has displayed in the first two games of this year’s tournament. If Lomax and Howard go off again, the Crusaders could very well be celebrating an NVL title Wednesday.


Holy Cross’s Corinne Lomax, middle, is hoping to help lead her team to an NVL tournament title on Wednesday night. Cross will have to get past Audrey Tice, left, Rebecca Kelly, right, and the rest of the defending tournament champions from St. Paul. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2023 file)


For photos from this year’s quarterfinal round, go here.

For photos from last year’s NVL final, go here.