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Hotchkiss forward Morgan Jenkins locked down the paint during the quarterfinal  game against Sacred Heart. Photo by Riley Klein

Hotchkiss girls make run in tourney

LAKEVILLE — The Hotchkiss School Bearcats  girls basketball team made it to the finals of the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Class A tournament before losing Sunday, March 5, to defending champions Loomis Chaffee.

The Bearcats started their post-season run with a home court victory over the Sacred Heart Tigers 61-42 in the quarterfinal game on March 1.

It was standing room only in William C. Fowle Gymnasium as the two squads took to the court. The Bearcat student section brought the ruckus in hopes of cheering their side to victory.   

Both teams looked to be evenly matched early on. A back-and-forth game with hard fought possessions yielded a 13-13 score by the end of the first quarter.

With the momentum on an even keel, Hotchkiss senior guard Kaila Richards looked to ignite a flame for her side. Richards schooled and fooled defenders as she spun around the Tigers and drove to the basket. Some fancy footwork and handles helped Richards score nine points in the first half and bring the Bearcats to a 28-27 lead by halftime.

All signs were pointing to another nail-biter finish with both sides staying neck and neck up to the intermission, but Hotchkiss sophomore forward Morgan Jenkins had other plans for the second half.

Jenkins became an unstoppable force in the paint during the third period. She scored 10 points, crashed the boards on both ends, and smacked down two big blocks.

The atmosphere was electric with roars from the Bearcat student section growing ever louder. Fueled by Jenkins’ presence in the post, Hotchkiss scored 11 unanswered points and pulled ahead to a 47-34 lead by the end of the third quarter.

The Bearcats coasted on a comfortable double-digit cushion throughout the fourth. Hotchkiss won 61-42 and advanced to the next round of tournament play.

Jenkins ended with 16 points, the most for Hotchkiss, and Kaila Richards followed her up with 14. Sacred Heart was led in scoring by junior guard Payton Sfreddo who scored 19 in the game.

Hotchkiss moved on to play Thayer Academy in the semifinals on Saturday, Mar. 4. The Bearcats strolled into Braintree, Mass. and emerged victorious over Thayer with a 55-51 win.

On Sunday, March 5, the Bearcats traveled to Windsor to face top seed and defending champs Loomis Chaffee School for the Class A championship game.

Hotchkiss was smoldering early on with every shot finding the back of the net. Kaila Richards led the charge and nailed three consecutive three-pointers in the first quarter. The Bearcats opened up a 21-3 lead with a minute remaining in the first.

Loomis’ senior star Carys Baker found her rhythm in the second and closed the gap. By halftime Hotchkiss led 29-26.

Despite a heroic 30-point performance from Richards in the game, Loomis clawed back and defended their title with a 64-60 win.

Hotchkiss finished their season as runner-up in NEPSAC Class A with a final record of 18-6.

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