Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2012, 10:06 pm

Hansen's MVP performance helps Geese soar to Warkins gold

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By Terry Duckett,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Wethersfield's Aly Eastman is fouled by Knoxville's Megan Axcell during the girl's championship game at the Warkins Cardinal Classic tournament in Erie on Saturday, December 29, 2012.
ERIE -- Sarah Hansen wasn't happy to be the Most Valuable Player of last year's Cliff Warkins Memorial Cardinal Classic only to see the Wethersfield girls' basketball team settle for silver.

On Saturday night, the Lady Geese's senior guard did her part to rectify that. Capping a second straight MVP run with six 3-pointers and 33 points, Hansen helped lead Wethersfield to the revenge it was seeking as it rolled to a 55-27 victory over Knoxville in a rematch of the 2011 Warkins finals.

"I was happy about being MVP, not with second place,'' said Hansen. "This year, after our loss to West Central, we started working hard for this. I'm way more happier with the title than anything; I wouldn't be MVP if not for my teammates.''

Indeed, while Hansen had the hot hand Saturday -- in the second quarter, she hit four treys and had a four-point play that sparked an 18-2 run after Knoxville tied the score at 15 -- classmate Aly Eastman also stepped up with 11 points and a buzzer-beating 3 that gave the Geese a 36-19 halftime lead.

"I think we really wanted this, especially for Coach (Becky Ince), and it was also big to get this in our senior year,'' said Eastman. "Hitting that shot going into halftime, it really pumped us up and got us ready for the next half.''

Wethersfield (16-3) turned up the heat defensively in the second half. Although the Blue Bullets held the Geese to nine third-period points, they could only must six. In the the final quarter, a Kelly Lenz bucket provided Knoxville its only points. All-Tournament picks Lenz and Tessa Jones were held to a combined 15 points.

"Last year's game was in their heads. This team is ready to make some noise,'' said Ince, who also got junior Kristen Parsons on the All-Tournament squad. "We started off with some obstacles; players not going out, things like that. We need to thank West Central for giving us the wake-up call we needed.''

Erie 47, Monmouth-Roseville 43 (3rd place):After seeing an eight-point lead turn into a two-point deficit early in the fourth quarter of Saturday's third-place game, the Erie Cardinals (12-5) showed their resolve by retaking the lead and hitting seven of 13 free throws down the stretch to best Monmouth-Roseville (9-7).

Freshman standout Rachel Cobert delivered another strong performance with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Paige Rus added 10 points and Courtney Cobert tallied five steals and five assists, earning All-Tournament honors. The Titans' All-Tourney choice, Destiny Smith, led all scorers with 14 points.

"We started to have some dead legs that were failing us in the third quarter, which had me worried,'' said Erie coach Brian Howell. "They found that extra gear to pull this one out. I'm very happy with the heart they showed; it's definitely a nice sign.''

Stockton 45, Rockridge 35 (5th place):The Rockridge Rockets (7-10) couldn't get untracked offensively until the fourth quarter, by which time Stockton had built a 31-20 lead. Balanced scoring fueled the Lady Blackhawks as their All-Tournament choice, Brooke Beneventi, was held to six points. Michaela Stoneking led the Rockets with a game-high 10 points, but teammate and All-Tournament choice Miranda Potter was held to just four.

Ridgewood 49, Fulton 46 (7th place):Down 42-28 entering the fourth quarter, the Ridgewood Spartans rallied in a big wayas Madison Miller scored five of her eight points to help fuel a closing 21-4 run. Morgan Green's 11 points led the way for Ridgewood, which overcame a 21-point night by the Steamers' All-Tournament standout Morgan Sanquist.

Galva 41, Bureau Valley 26 (9th place):All-Tournament standout Alex Strom's 12 points were augmented by 11 from teammate Nicole Withrow as the Galva Lady Cats (6-9) closed their Warkins stint, leading from start to finish. Nicole Bornsheuer led Bureau Valley with 10 points.

Mercer County 48, Morrison 26 (11th place):Mercer County junior Kristin Heath had her biggest game at Warkins, leading all scorers with 14 points as the Golden Eagles rolled past Morrison. Bridget Anderson seconded Heath with 11 points, and the Eagles outscored the Fillies 32-5 in the second half.