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Martelle leads Brookfield girls into state semifinals

Kevin Duff, News-Times
Published 11:33 pm, Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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MIDDLETOWN -- There's something about the Brookfield High girls basketball team and close games.

The Bobcats have played 10 games decided by six points or fewer this season.

And, somehow, Brookfield has won all of them.

"We like to make it interesting," joked Brookfield coach Maura Keenan.

Wednesday's Class M quarterfinal game against No. 15 Morgan was certainly interesting -- and, at times, downright nerve-wracking for Keenan and top-seeded Brookfield -- but, as they've done all year, the Bobcats scrapped their way to a 48-45 victory and advanced to the semifinals.

"I think the reason why we win all these close games is because we're such a cohesive team," said Bobcats guard Brittany Martelle. "We all get along so well on and off-the-court, so when it gets down to crunch time, we want to win it for each other. We don't want this season to ever end."

Early on, however, it looked as though Brookfield's terrific run -- and the best season in school history, according to Keenan -- was going to come to a screeching halt.

The Bobcats gave up four points in the final six seconds of the first quarter and headed to the bench trailing 19-12.

"We were thinking `Oh my gosh, this could be the last high school game we're ever going to play,'" said senior forward Jackie Brown. "We thought tomorrow we might not be going to practice like we do every day. And that's really sad for us."

Martelle made sure that wasn't the case.

The senior guard drilled three 3-pointers in a two-minute span in the second quarter and was the driving force in a furious rally that put the Bobcats up 25-23 at halftime.

"Usually, the team with the best player is going to win," said Morgan coach Joe Grippo. "And (Martelle) was the best player on the court -- by far."

Martelle, who committed to Division II Franklin Pierce University, finished the game with 24 points (half of her team's total) and added three assists in the victory.

She is now 13 points shy of breaking the career scoring record -- for both boys and girls -- at Brookfield, a mark that has stood since 1979.

"We prepared for (Martelle) and we knew what she could do, but I don't think we defended her well at all," Grippo said. "Our mistakes defensively really hurt us."

The Huskies (17-6) were caught sleeping on back-to-back in-bounds passes in the second quarter, and, as a result, Martelle got open looks at the basket.

As she's done to any team that has given her room, Martelle made Morgan pay.

Though she was the only Bobcat in double-figures, she received plenty of help -- especially on the boards -- from her teammates.

Brookfield collected 16 offensive rebounds, which helped it overcome an 8-for-30 shooting performance in the first half.

"If we were going to continue to shoot that poorly, we needed to get on the offensive boards," Keenan said. "At halftime, I lit into my post players a little bit and they responded. That, in my opinion, is always the biggest difference in a game -- rebounds."

Brookfield, now 19-3, advances to the Class M semifinal against No. 13 Tolland, which defeated Plainville 49-36 Wednesday.

The game is set for Saturday, but no time or location has been announced.

MORGAN (17-6)

Amanda Cullen 4 0-0 9; Sarah Thompson 4 0-0 8; Melissa Bastian 4 2-2 10; Kelsey Carlson 4 0-1 8; Meghan Testoni 3 2-2 8; Christy Coyne 1 0-0 2; Lauren Fitzgerald 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 4-5 45.

BROOKFIELD (19-3)

Maureen Vetter 0 0-1 0; Brittany Martelle 8 4-5 24; Jackie Brown 4 0-0 8; Krista Melchione 2 2-4 6; Jaimie Bickelhaupt 3 2-4 8; Tara Schang 1 0-0 2; Kerry Fleming 0 0-2 0. Totals: 18 8-16 48.

MORGAN 19 4 10 12 -- 45

BROOKFIELD 12 13 12 11 -- 48

3-pointers: M--Cullen; B--Martelle 4