Cross girls reach another state semifinal after big home win over Eastern

Holy Cross guard Shania Howard (5) drives against Bristol Eastern forward Autumn Udoh (42) during Tuesday night’s Class L girls basketball state quarterfinal game in Waterbury. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

When playing against the Holy Cross girls basketball team, it is imperative to still be standing after the opening salvo that’s unleashed by the high-pressure, high-tempo Crusaders.

Holy Cross often knocks opponents out early in the game with a big run. I’ve seen it enough times in my writing career to know it’s coming and that it most often results in a Crusader victory.

Top-seeded Holy Cross opened with a big burst against eighth-seeded Bristol Eastern, and roared to a 69-33 Class L quarterfinal win in the Tim McDonald Gymnasium. The Crusaders (23-2) play No. 12 Farmington on Saturday at 5 p.m. at New Britain High School’s Chick Shea Gymnasium. At stake is a second trip to Mohegan Sun in a three-year span. The Lancer season ended at 17-7.

Holy Cross exploded for an 18-2 run on the way to a 24-7 first quarter. The Crusaders led by 16 at the half, 21 after three quarters, and ran away with the game even further in the fourth quarter. Holy Cross’ defensive prowess was on full display.

On offense, junior guard Shania Howard ran out to a game-high 24 points, including the 1,000th point of her career. Howard needed just four points going into the contest and took care of the milestone in a hurry. Sophomore big Corinne Lomax added 19 points. Eastern sophomore Autumn Udoh led her team with 12 points.

A quick look at Saturday, and beyond

Holy Cross will be facing a red-hot Farmington team that has blasted No. 21 Hillhouse, No. 5 Middletown and No. 13 Bethel by a combined 88 points in three state tourney wins. The Crusaders are looking for a better result than what happened in their last trip to New Britain, when eventual champion E.O. Smith-Storrs ended their state run, and the career of girls all-time scorer Mya Zaccagnini.

Bristol Eastern: The Lancers lose guard Vanessa Drury to graduation, along with reserve Lauren Ayotte. The bottom line is Eastern had a very young lineup, starting two sophomores, a junior and a freshman alongside Drury. The Lancers have potential to be very good again next season.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Tuesday night’s game.