Holy Cross, St. Paul girls hoop teams reach semifinal round of NVL tourney

Shania Howard (pictured shooting a free throw) and Corinne Lomax each scored 20 points for Holy Cross in their quarterfinal rout of Woodland. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

The Holy Cross and St. Paul girls basketball teams have taken up their customary positions in the semifinal round of the Naugatuck Valley League tournament.

The ways that the top-seeded Crusaders (20-1) and second-seeded Falcons (18-3) got there were quite different. Holy Cross put on a clinic in team basketball and fierce defense in an 85-31 win over eighth-seeded Woodland in Saturday’s last quarterfinal of the day at Naugatuck High School. St. Paul got way ahead of seventh-seeded Torrington, then saw the underdog claw its way back to within five points before the favorite escaped with a 48-41 victory.

The semifinals are Monday at Naugatuck. At 5:30 p.m., St. Paul plays sixth-seeded Watertown, a 68-61 upset winner over third-seeded Oxford in the first game. The nightcap at approximately 7:30 is between Holy Cross and fourth-seeded Seymour, a 48-43 comeback winner over fifth-seeded Ansonia.

Here’s what happened for Holy Cross and St. Paul in those quarterfinal games:


The Crusaders blasted off to a 53-18 halftime lead on the strength of terrific teamwork and a nasty defense. Both Shania Howard and Corinne Lomax scored a game-high 20 points while Lomax’s fellow six-footer Rachel Healey contributed 10 points. There were 12 different Crusaders who scored in the game. On defense, Isabella Oliver and Maddie Neibel combined to hold Woodland senior star Casey Mulligan to just six points. Oliver and Neibel also hit a pair of 3-pointers, including Neibel’s buzzer-beater to end the first quarter.


The Falcons led, 25-8, at halftime, and pushed the advantage to 28-8 early in the third quarter. When Zola Cudjoe made a basket and was fouled a little over midway into the third quarter, St. Paul held a 33-14 lead. By the end of the quarter, that advantage was trimmed to 35-26. Torrington pulled within five points on several occasions but couldn’t get over the hump. It wasn’t pretty, but the Falcons did what they needed to do to survive and advance. Audrey Tice scored 18 points, including a basket that got her to 1,000 for her career. Olivia Dahn also scored 18 points, and she hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to help St. Paul keep Torrington away.

Audrey Tice poses with the game ball after reaching 1,000 career points during the third quarter of St. Paul’s NVL girls basketball tournament quarterfinal win over Torrington on Saturday. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Saturday’s St. Paul and Holy Cross games.