Plainfield - Casey Sullivan hit two free throws with 3.5 seconds left in the first half Friday to pull St. Bernard within a point of Plainfield. Within a point of a tie for first place.
Then the pace of the game changed. And not in St. Bernard's favor.
"That's what we wanted," St. Bernard coach Mike Nystrom said of the halftime score, 18-17 in Plainfield's favor. "We didn't want the game to be fast-paced. In the first half we rebounded, we played well, we made some shots.
"... We came out in the second half like we were down 20."
The Plainfield High School girls' basketball team outsprinted St. Bernard in the second half, winning 50-32 and clinching at least a share of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Small Division championship.
Morgan Griffin scored 33 points on senior night for Plainfield (12-5, 8-0), one game after she scored the 1,000th point of her career in a 30-point performance against Lyman Memorial (54-49 victory).
Plainfield defeated St. Bernard (9-8, 6-2) 58-47 on Dec. 21, the first time the teams played this season.
"When we win, we're usually beating the other teams up the court," Griffin said. "When we don't run, we don't know what to do with ourselves."
Griffin said before the game Plainfield coach Jason Greene wrote down all the team's ECC victories in the last four years. He also wrote down the Panthers' only loss during that time: a 42-27 defeat in February, 2011. To St. Bernard.
"We wanted to win the game because it's senior night," Griffin said. "And we wanted to win the ECC Small Division."
In the third quarter, Plainfield outscored St. Bernard 13-4 to take a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter. St. Bernard was 2-for-8 in the third quarter.
Plainfield then scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to make it 38-21.
Sullivan scored 12 points for St. Bernard and Brittney Walenta 10, including a shot from the top of the key that gave the Saints a 13-11 lead with 2:10 left in the first half.
Nystrom said the Saints took too many quick shots in the second half, which fueled Plainfield's strategy.
'They started to get on a roll," Nystrom said. "You're playing right into their hands by taking a shot off one pass. It snowballs. They pushed the ball a little better and got us on our heels a little bit. ... And Griffin is a superior athlete."
Plainfield can wrap up the Small Division title with a win Tuesday at Tourtellotte.