|A tough loss for Mikayla Mobley (13), Treasure Coleman (5) and the Sacred Heart girls on Monday.|
The Hearts will be back next season. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Losses sting, no matter how they transpire. The sixth-seeded Sacred Heart girls basketball team experienced a cruel way to lose on Monday night in overtime of a Class S state semifinal against 10th-seeded SMSA at Plainville High School.
In a low-scoring, rough-and-tumble offensive affair, the Hearts led 34-32 and 36-35 in the final minute and 12 seconds of regulation, only to see the Tigers tie it at 36. Sacred Heart had a chance to win, but Treasure Coleman's long shot from the right wing hit the back rim and fell off at the buzzer.
The Hearts would only score one point, on senior Jenna Madigan's foul shot, in overtime and lost 40-37. Sacred Heart saw a terrific season end at 21-6, one step shy of a state final for the second straight time. Madigan had a strong final game with nine points and 12 rebounds.
The Hearts had their chances. That's what happens in a close game that ends in defeat. That doesn't take away from the great season Sacred Heart put together.
All the Hearts did was win six postseason games and reach the state semifinal for a second straight season. Sacred Heart captured the NVL title, the first time that has happened since 1976.
"We won the NVLs, which I think says something for the kids," head coach Ron Picard said. "We had our opportunities to win. It just didn't happen for us."
Too much one-on-one play, and too many missed three-point shots and turnovers, hurt Sacred Heart's chances for a berth in the state final for the first time since 2005.
"They're young, it is what it is," Picard said.
Young is an understatement. The blue-collar Madigan is gone to graduation, as is Kayleigh O'Donnell. Slated to be back for the Hearts next season are Aamya Rivera, Treasure Coleman, Mikayla Mobley and Hayley Tucker, four of the five starters. Others like Trista Caron and Nevaeh Jones gained valuable experience coming off the bench.
Sacred Heart returns a strong core from a team that made its second straight semifinal appearance. This loss will hurt, but the Hearts should be strong, and they should be back, next season.
GALLERY: Click here to see the photos I took at the game.
STORY: Click here to see what I wrote for the Waterbury Republican-American.