MADISON — Caitlyn Hunt didn’t score for nearly 13 minutes, but when the Sheehan senior center got going, the Titans began to roll.
And that enabled eighth-ranked Sheehan to defeat Hand 49-38 Friday night in a battle of undefeated teams before a limited crowd.
“They are a real good team and did a lot of things defensively that bothered us,” Sheehan coach Bussillo said. “They were undefeated. We were undefeated. To get out of here with a win, we’re very happy.”
Hunt, one of the premiere post players in the state, was kept in check by Hand until the Tigers’ Maddie Thomas had to sit with two fouls in the second quarter and Hand had no one who could contain her.
Finally, Sheehan (7-0) was finally able to get the ball down low in the post to Hunt. After that, the Titans kept working the ball through her, posting up or kicking the ball out to the wing for 3-pointers.
“I thought that they did a good job and we did a poor job getting her the ball when she was open,” Mike Bussillo said. “We made a very slight adjustment. We decided to clear out and instead of putting a big at the top of the key, we put Hayleigh (Legase) there. We thought it would spread the floor out and give her room to work. It seemed to work, but we started to score with a bit more regularity.”
At that point Hand led 19-14, but the Titans went on a 10-3 run to close out the first half, including scoring the final six points before the break.
“When she wasn’t in, I got more looks,” Hunt said. “Even when they doubled down it was easier to get the ball out for someone to drive.”
Hunt scored eight of her game-high 19 points in the third quarter as Sheehan stretched the lead to 39-31 at the end of the period. And buckets by Caitlyn Velez and Hunt gave the Titans their largest lead of the night, 42-31, with 5:43 remaining in the game.
“Obviously, Hunt is a really good player,” Hand coach Tim Tredwell. “She’s big, she finishes and she’s great with both hands. She’s solid and they know how to get her the ball. We had neither the help defense or the ball pressure. We were supposed to help on the weak side, but it was late or non-existent.”
Hand scored the next five points and had a chance to cut it to three points but turned the ball over. Molly Smolenski then hit the dagger when she connected on a trey from the left side with 3:20 left to push the Titans’ lead to 45-36.
“That was a huge three when we were up by six to give us a breather,” Bussillo said. “She’s been hitting threes at a really good clip.”
Sophia Coppola led Hand (5-1) with 11 points. Tredwell said his Tigers were a tired team as they were playing their fourth game in seven days.
“It’s been a long week for these kids,” Tredwell said. “They were beat up and tired and it looked it. We were flat defensively and we didn’t have our legs tonight.”