Wahconah girls basketball facing coach's old team

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DALTON — Wahconah girls basketball coach Liz Kay still has fond memories of her time as the head coach of the Coventry, Conn. girls team.

For a day, though, Kay is going to have to tuck those memories away.

Kay and the Warriors will get a crack at her former side today in the Connecticut-Massachusetts Challenge in Windsor Locks, Conn., and the second-year Wahconah coach admitted she had butterflies on the eve of her old-against-new matchup.

"I'm pretty excited, pretty nervous," Kay said on Friday. "There are quite a bit of emotions about it, which is a good thing — I think."

Wahconah's game will be the second of four scheduled games for the one-day event. East Longmeadow will play Bolton, Conn. at 2:30, Minnechaug will play Granby, Conn. in the third game, and Ludlow will play Windsor Locks in the final contest.

Kay led the Patriots for seven seasons before she took over as coach of the Amherst-Pelham program for the 2012-2013 season. During her time at Coventry, she led the Patriots to two state championship appearances.

"When I was down there, I had a very special experience," Kay said. "I had a great team, which had a lot of success. I had a very special relationship with a lot of the kids I coached down there."

And as Kay looks to build up that same rapport with her Wahconah team, she will test how far her Wahconah side has come with the trip across state lines.

Kay was tipped off to the tournament by Windsor Locks coach Doug Knowe.

"He and I have been friends for a long time," Kay said. "He came in two years after I came in [at Coventry]. There's a group of four of us [including Bolton coach Wayne Hapgood and Granby coach Dean Godin] that were in the league together.

"[Knowe] lives in East Longmeadow, and he knows a lot of teams down in the valley. He organized it."

And Kay also has a direct connection back to Coventry. Her former assistant, Kevin Clancy, is the current head coach for the Patriots.

The Warriors enter the game looking to extend a five-game winning streak. After dropping the opening two games of the year, Kay's side has rallied over the last handful of games — all on the road — as Wahconah navigates a nine-game road streak that started on Dec. 20 and ends on Jan. 29.

"I think we are in a place where kids are playing with confidence and pretty loose, to be honest with you," Kay said of the winning streak. "It's like we are going to do what we do, and right now that's been working pretty successfully."

Asked if the road trips have either benefitted or hurt her side, Kay joked that she doesn't know if the kids even notice the location of the games.

"I don't think it's bothered them at all," Kay said. "The kids are more resilient than the adults are. The kids are kids, they just show up and put their uniforms on and play. For them, I don't think it's made much of a difference at all.

"When you get nine in a row, you just have to embrace it. It seems so ridiculous, but it's actually been pretty fun."

Wahconah is scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m.

Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254.


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