St. Paul girls earn first state title in 14 years; third in program history

The St. Paul girls basketball team poses with the state championship trophy and banner following its 49-42 win over Windham in the Class M state final on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

The St. Paul girls basketball program had waited nearly 14 years for a chance to celebrate a state championship victory.

The Falcons won on March 20, 2010, when current assistant coaches Chelsea Mone and Claire Consonni were players for head coach Joe Mone. Between 2010 and 2024 were some great seasons that included Naugatuck Valley League championships, 20-plus wins, and deep runs into the state postseason. There was even a 2014 Class S state final against plucky underdog Thomaston. None of the seasons between 2010 and 2024 ended with the ultimate prize, and that was a state championship. The Thomaston loss was particularly painful as the Falcons were topped by the Bears, 61-57, in double overtime.

That’s what made Saturday’s 49-42 victory over Windham in the Class M state championship game at the Mohegan Sun Arena so sweet. St. Paul completed a great season with the ultimate prize. When the buzzer sounded, senior captains Audrey Tice and Olivia Dahn ran to each other and embraced, something they’ve done time and again in big moments. Tice and Dahn then joined the bigger celebration near midcourt. Head coach Joe Mone shared a group hug with assistants Gary Fleming, Chelsea Mone and Consonni. Senior captain Rebecca Kelly (14 points, 11 rebounds) followed up her NVL tournament MVP performance with a most outstanding player award in the state final.

The Falcons had a balanced offensive attack beyond Kelly with Tice and Dahn both scoring eight points. Dahn played all 32 minutes and totaled two assists, two blocks and two steals to go along with her four rebounds.

Freshman Kiley Bohn made a great first impression on the big stage with nine points and eight rebounds off the bench. Sophomore Zola Cudjoe worked through foul trouble for six points and six rebounds. Seven players totaled at least 14 minutes played.

Unlike the 2014 state final, St. Paul led for nearly the whole game against Windham (27:26). The Falcons tallied 39 rebounds, including 21 on the offensive glass, which led to 15 second-chance points. There were 24 points in the paint.

The game didn’t start smoothly with St. Paul tallying four turnovers before Cudjoe scored the first points on an offensive rebound and layup at the 5:48 mark of the first quarter. The game’s three times all came in the first quarter, with the last, 9-9, occurring with 51 seconds left. Bohn made two free throws and Windham converted 1 of 2 as St. Paul led, 11-10, after a quarter.

Kelly scored six of her points in the second quarter, as did Tice. Tice and Dahn (3 points) both made 3-pointers, and Bohn converted her second basket in as many quarters as St. Paul built a 28-20 halftime lead.

The Falcons reached their largest lead of the contest, 40-28, with 3:05 to go in the third quarter on a 6-0 run. All of the points came from Kelly, including two putbacks following offensive rebounds.

Windham responded in championship-contending fashion, ripping off nine straight points to get within 40-37. The last points of the run were on a fast-break layup by Asijha Harris with 52 seconds to go. Kelly and Bohn made a free throw each to put St. Paul up, 42-37, going into the fourth quarter.

The Falcons started to put the Whippets away early in the fourth quarter. Bohn made a layup just eight seconds into the fourth quarter, then connected on another at the 6:29 mark for a 46-37 lead. Zoee Robins scored for Windham, 46-39, but Tice drove for a basket to get the St. Paul lead back to nine points, 48-39, with 2:58 to play.

Aniya Jenkins made a 3-pointer – her only points of the game – to push the margin back to 48-42 at the 2:38 mark, but it was the final field goal of the game. Windham missed its final five shots, and Dahn added a free throw with seven seconds to play for the game’s final point.

St. Paul previously won state championships in 2001 and 2010, and now it can add 2024 to the list.


No. 2 St. Paul 49, No. 5 Windham 42
At Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville
Windham (42): Hailey Flores 2 1 6, Aniya Jenkins 1 0 3, Jaelize Rivera 9 2 21, Asijha Harris 1 0 2, Alyssa Lebiszczak 2 0 4, Zoee Robins 2 2 6, Amaya Mangual 0 0 0, Jaida Green 0 0 0. Totals: 17 5 42.
3-pointers: Flores 1, Jenkins 1, Rivera 1.
Percentages: FG – 35.4 (17-48); 3FG – 23.1 (3-13); FT – 35.7 (5-14).
Rebounds: 26 (Rivera 8).
Assists: 7 (Rivera 3).
Steals: 11 (Robins 5).
Personal fouls: 20.
Fouled out: Harris.
Turnovers: 14.
St. Paul (49): Madalyne Bielecki 2 0 4, Audrey Tice 3 1 8, Olivia Dahn 3 1 8, Zola Cudjoe 2 2 6, Rebecca Kelly 5 4 14, Ava Stevenson 0 0 0, Kiley Bohn 3 3 9, Aniyah Moore 0 0 0. Totals: 18 11 49.
3-pointers: Tice 1, Dahn 1.
Rebounds: 39 (Kelly 11).
Assists: 10 (Tice 5).
Steals: 8 (Tice 3).
Personal fouls: 12.
Fouled out: None.
Turnovers: 20.
Final records: St. Paul 24-3; Windham 22-5.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Saturday’s final.