Conard Girls Basketball celebrates 50 years – We-Ha



Southington spoils the party with a win at West Hartford on Thursday night.

The 50th anniversary of Conard women’s basketball was celebrated at halftime. Conard vs. Southington Girls Basketball. December 23, 2021. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

By Paul Palmer

Thursday night was to celebrate the start of women’s sports in West Hartford, and in particular the Conard women’s basketball program. Even before Title IX became law, ensuring that female athletes would have the same opportunities as male athletes, the West Hartford School Board said yes to the creation of programs – and among them was a varsity basketball team – women’s ball at Conard, who in just seven years would be a state champion.

Five members of Conard’s first women’s basketball team were honored Thursday night. Conard vs. Southington Girls Basketball. December 23, 2021. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

The players and coaches who built the tradition at Conard returned Thursday evening to celebrate the past, present and future of the program. Five players from that original squad were on hand, and during pre-match warm-ups, the West Hartford Magic Girls Travel Basketball team players lined up the baseline and congratulated the Chieftain players as they were crossing the firing lines.

The Conard players bred five West Hartford Magic players during warm-ups. Conard vs. Southington Girls Basketball. December 23, 2021. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Meeting challenges has always been on the agenda, and Thursday was no exception. A Conard team that lists just three seniors hosted the undefeated Southington Lady Knights. Despite a tight first quarter, Southington was just too quick, too skillful and too good to contain, and they would come away with a 40-19 victory.

Conard’s Ciara Gaglioti struggles to deny the shot at Southington. Conard vs. Southington Girls Basketball. December 23, 2021. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

The visitors used an all-field trapping defense, forcing Conard to make quick decisions with the ball. When they saw the hoop, the Chieftains found it difficult to convert. Southington also dominated the boards at both ends, rarely giving Conard a second chance on the attacking side.

Southington pushed what was a four-point lead after the first eight minutes to 10 points with a 3-point with 4:41 left in the second. By the end of the half it was a 12 point lead and the Lady Knights were in control of almost every aspect of the game.

Despite the lopsided score, the hearts and determination of the Chieftain players never wavered. They fought for every loose ball, rushed to try and contain Southington in defense and never gave up. But it was just about playing against a better team.

Conard’s Courtney McPhee looks for teammates on the incoming pass. Conard vs. Southington Girls Basketball. December 23, 2021. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

One of the strongest statements about how tough head coach Laurie Cersosimo’s side was was played the entire game in the third period. Down 20 points, with just 23 seconds left in the quarter, Conard’s defense denied Southington the chance to return the ball, forcing the 5-second violation and turnover.

The Lady Knights were led by junior forward Allison Mikosz who scored a high of 13 points, and first year guard Ciara Sockwell who added 8. Sockwell was tenacious all night, chasing loose balls and battling every possession.

Conard’s Callie Cosgrove fights for the free ball against two Southington players. Conard vs. Southington Girls Basketball. December 23, 2021. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Conard rookie Callie Cosgrove – the emotional leader on the pitch that night – had a team record 8 points, with Tatiana Harrison in 4.

The evening was meant to celebrate all that has been accomplished and all that will be accomplished in the program and in women’s sports at Conard and West Hartford. Bringing together 41 alumni ranging from last year to the first team is what will be remembered long after anyone remembers the score of the game.

A group of alumni from the past 50 years have come together to celebrate the Conard Girls’ Basketball Program. Conard vs. Southington Girls Basketball. December 23, 2021. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

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