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girls basketball Koble Cathedral girls fall in controversial fashion

March 12, 2019

MERIDEN — Losing a state tournament game hurts. It means your season is over. But losing the way the Kolbe Cathedral girls did Monday in the Class M semifinals against Cromwell, was downright devastating, especially for junior Brianna Meekins.

“That’s a 15-year-old girl who is absolutely devastated,” Kolbe coach Devon Parker said about Meekins after Cromwell earned a berth in the state final with a 51-47 victory at Maloney High.

With Kolbe leading 47-46 with 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and Cromwell in possession, Meekins attempted to steal the ball from Cromwell’s Vanessa Stolstajner. Meekins dove for the ball and came up with it as she rolled on the floor. But then came a whistle. What Meekins, Parker and everyone on the Kolbe side thought was a clean steal was called a foul.

But it didn’t end there. A frustrated Meekins threw the ball down in frustration and a technical foul was called. Stolstajner (22 points) would have a 1-and-1 followed by two technical foul shots. She made the first free throw before missing, then sank both technicals to give Cromwell a 49-47 lead. Najla Cecunjanin (17 points) added two free throws eight seconds later to seal it.

“We knew it would come down to big plays at the end,” Cromwell coach Kelly Maher said. “We did a good job and kept our composure. Vanessa is the one we want on the line at the end and she came through.”

Parker, one of the most mellow coaches in the area, was uncharacteristically furious afterward.

“Did you ever see a playoff game end on a technical,” he asked. “It was a clean steal. Where did she hit her? And then the refs compounded it by calling a technical. It really mucked up a good game.”

Kolbe (21-5), the third seed, overcame a nine-point, second quarter deficit to catch the hot-shooting second-seeded Panthers (34-3), who were 10 for 19 from 3-point range. Kolbe held Cromwell without a field goal in the fourth quarter but the Panthers were 9 for 11 from the line.

“I don’t think Cromwell has shot like that all season,” Parker said. “But I don’t want to take anything away from them. Cromwell is a good team.”

Gracen Kerr led the Cougars with 20 points while Shaniya Stancil had 11 points and six rebounds. Kolbe outrebounded Cromwell 40-17 with Robin Selitte grabbing 10 and Mishell Pringle and Meekins each pulling down eight.

With such a rebounding edge Kolbe took 60 shots (19 made) while Cromwell made the most of their 35 (15 made).

“Yes, we have some people who can make 3s,” said, Maher whose team will meet Sheehan in the final Friday or Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Gracen Kerr was fabulous for Kolbe with 20 points and six assists, but Cromwell’s Vanessa Stolstajner (22 points) had the hot hand all game.

QUOTABLE

“I’ve seen kids throw punches on the court and get warned but they call a technical because Brianna (Meekins) bounced the ball after a bad call? She feels she lost it for us but it wasn’t her fault,” — Kolbe Cathedral coach Devon Parker on the decisive play with 24 seconds left in the game.

C ROMWELL 51, KOLBE 47

KOLBE CATHEDRAL (47)

Beatriz Honorio 0 0-0 0; Gracen Kerr 7 3-4 20; Aniyah Pettway 1 0-0 2; Brianna Meekins 1 1-4 3; Mishell Pringle 4 0-0 8; Robin Selitte 0 0-0 0; Shaniya Stancil 5 1-3 11; Trinity Stackhouse 1 1-4 3. TOTALS:19-60 6-15 47

CROMWELL(51)

Sadie Budzik 2 1-2 7; Gina Sousa 1 0-0 3; Jessica DellaRatta 1 0-0 2; Vanessa Stolstajner 5 8-10 22; Eliza Weston 0 0-0 0; Najla Cecunjanin 6 2-3 17; Taylor Yankowski 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 15-35 11-15 51

Halftime: 29-29. 3-pointers: KC — Kerr 3. C — Stolstajner 4, Cecunjanin 3, Budzik 2, Sousa.

Records: KC 21-5, C 24-3