WALLINGFORD>> Ever since former Mercy guard Maria Weselyj’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer tickled the nets at Mohegan Sun Arena to down Lauralton Hall in last year’s Class LL final, the Crusaders have wanted redemption, however, not against Mercy.
“Whoever we had to meet along the way our goal was to beat that team,” Crusaders coach Amanda Forcucci said. “What happened happened last year, but we made it a point to say that our goal, regardless of who it was (we had to play), was that we are getting back to the state championship.”
On Friday, the second-seeded Crusaders got what wanted in a 52-43 victory over the third-seeded Tigers in the Class LL semifinals to advance to the Class LL title game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Crusaders advance to face No. 4 South Windsor either March 22 or 23. Dates and times will be announced after the remaining girls and boys finals are set.
Meanwhile, Mercy sees its run of four straight Class LL title game appearances come to an end. The Tigers had lost three in a row before finally winning it last season.
“It’s going to be weird (not playing in a state title game)” Mercy coach Tim Kohs said. “(Lauralton) was very hungry, you get beat. We know how it feels to get beat.”
Mercy (25-2) was led by Maura Fitzpatrick with 11 points and Destine Perry with seven.
Carly Fabbri was lights out for the Crusaders (25-1) nailing five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points. Emma McCarthy added 14 points and Maggie Salandra contributed eight points.
After a tight first half, in which Lauralton Hall only led 22-20 at the half, the Crusaders came out on fire in the third. Lauralton Hall opened up a 10-point lead using a 13-3 run sparked by Fabbri and McCarthy. McCarthy said the Crusaders weren’t satisfied.
“It didn’t matter what the score was,” she said. “I didn’t look at the score the whole game. I just look at the time (on the clock) when it matters. The score will show at the end of the game, clearly it did today.”
Fabbri helped keep the Crusaders out front with her shooting, burying two triples in the third to keep Lauralton up by double-digits. Forcucci said when she’s shooting like that, she’ll always get the green light to stop and pop.
“She’s thrives in this type of environment,” the coach said. “Pressure, big games, she’s just chomping at the bit for this day to come.”
However, Mercy would not go down quietly and rallied in the fourth to make it a five point game at 42-37. Emily Menendez stepped up for Lauralton Hall and nailed a 3-pointer to put the Crusaders up one and seal the victory.
And even though Lauralton Hall was focused on getting back to Mohegan, beating Mercy did mean something.
“When Mercy was playing Career, everyone was like, ‘who do you want, Mercy or Career?’” McCarthy said. “We wanted Mercy. We needed our revenge.”
LAURALTON HALL 52, MERCY 43
(at Lauralton Hall)
Mercy 11 9 10 13 – 43
Lauralton Hall 12 10 16 14 -52
Kendra Landy 1 4-7 6, Maura Fitzpatrick 5 1-2 11, Destine Perry 2 3-8 7, Morgan Cahill 2 0-0 4, Sarah Gallo 2 1-2 5, Hannah Coleman 1 0-0 3, Alexis Brown 1 1-2 3, Haley Vanty 2 0-0 4. Totals: 16 10-21 43
LAURALTON HALL (52)
emma mccarthy 6 2-4 14, Maggie Salandra 2 4-9 8, Carly Fabbri 7 2-2 21, Maureen Connolly 2 1-1 5, emily menendez 1 1-1 4. Totals: 18 10-17 52
3-point goals: Mercy 1 (Coleman 1); Lauralton Hall 6 (Fabbri 5, menendez 1); Records: Mercy 25-2; Lauralton Hall 25-1