Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2012, 12:27 am

Geese roll into Warkins finals' rematch with Knoxville

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By Terry Duckett, tduckett@qconline.com

ERIE -- For the third time in four years, Wethersfield and Knoxville will duel for the Cliff Warkins Memorial Varsity Girls Cardinal Classic championship.

Two years removed from beating the Blue Bullets to win the annual holiday tournament at Erie High School, the Lady Geese now hope to avenge last year's finals' setback to Knoxville when the teams square off this evening at 6.

To set itself up to potentially accomplish that goal, Wethersfield first took care of business against Monmouth-Roseville, using a second-quarter defensive stand as the springboard to a 60-37 victory over the 2009 Warkins champions.

"We feel like last year, we fell short, and we've wanted another chance to get the title,'' said Wethersfield coach Becky Ince, whose 15-3 club is on a 10-game win streak. "Knoxville is very well-coached, and their height can cause us problems. We've got to try and push the tempo against them.''

Senior sharpshooter Sarah Hansen turned in another strong night for the Lady Geese, bagging three 3-pointers en route to a game-high 23 points. In the paint, teammate Kodi Hammer provided excellent balance with 19 points. Aly Eastman added 12 points for the Geese, who outscored the Titans 14-3 in the second quarter to take a 28-15 halftime lead.

"Coach kept saying we want to go back to the finals, and we want revenge. Getting second last year was not good enough for us,'' said Hansen, who was out sick along with Hammer and Caitlin Miller when the Titans (9-6) beat Wethersfield a month ago. "We knew we could do it. We had a lot of confidence going in.''

While Knoxville is also moving on to the finals, the host Erie Cardinals stole the Blue Bullets' thunder. Rallying from a 16-point deficit to force overtime, the Cardinals completed the comeback with a thrilling 49-48 victory as the Cobert sisters each posted double-doubles.

Freshman forward Rachel Cobert had a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, with junior guard Courtney Cobert netting 11 points and snaring 10 boards to go with five assists and five steals while playing 34 of the game's 36 minutes.

"This was a really big one for us,'' said the younger Cobert, who scored half of her points in the second half to help Erie (11-5) overcome a 31-15 halftime deficit. "Losing to Rockridge (47-30) was an all-time low, so it's been up from there.''

Closing the gap to 34-26 after three, Erie completed its comeback in the fourth period. Senior guard Kayla Waggoner's 3-pointer and two buckets apiece from the Cobert siblings helped force OT. In the extra session, the Cards hit three of four foul shots. Erie faces Mon-Rose this evening at 6 for third place.

Rockridge also goes 3-1:The Rockridge Rockets (7-9) also finished 3-1 in pool play with a 54-41 win over Galva to book a spot in the fifth-place game against Stockton, which handled Fulton 56-41. Beth Meier's game-high 20 points led the way for the Rockets, who outscored the Lady Cats 17-4 in the final period.

"After we lost to Ridgewood (last Saturday), we needed to focus on getting better as a basketball team,'' said Rockridge coach Shawn Strachan, "and the grls have bought into that.''

Ridgewood held off Morrison 59-55 behind the duo of Ashley Collins (20 points) and Taylor Brooks (17), countering a game-high 23 points by the Fillies' Chelsea Eads that included five 3-pointers. The Spartans face Fulton for seventh place today at 3 p.m.

Mercer County earned its first tourney win, nipping Bureau Valley 40-37 as Bridget Anderson and Bailey Swanson combined for 23 points.