WALLINGFORD — Top-seeded East Haven opened up its Southern Connecticut Conference quarterfinal contest against Foran with a 10-0 run and never looked back in a Saturday-morning rout at Sheehan High Gymnasium.
After extending their margin to 20-2 midway through the opening frame and 30-8 after one quarter, the Yellowjackets coasted to a 74-38 triumph over the ninth-seeded Lions to punch their tickets to the SCC semifinals on Monday night at Jonathan Law in Milford.
“We hit a lot of shots in the beginning,” East Haven head coach Anthony Russell said. “We’re the type of team that when we’re hitting shots, our mental status is good.”
Sophomore guard Erin Curran led the Yellowjackets’ balanced attack with a team-high 17 points, which included five 3-pointers. Overall, East Haven knocked down 13 shots from beyond the arc.
Senior guard Makenzie Helms added 13 points and five assists, Alannah Doheny chipped in with 11 points and Taylor Salato had 10 points, to round out four East Haven scorers in double figures.
“We were really hyped up for the game,” said Helms, a University of Nebraska signee. “Even on the bus here, you could just tell the energy was just different. There was just no way we were going to let this game slip out of our hands.”
After a missed layup by Foran off of the opening tip, East Haven’s relentless pressure defense yielded Lion turnovers on their next three possessions.
Three-pointers by Alexis Pendziwater and Curran and two baskets from Salato made it 10-0 East Haven at the 6:21 mark, before Jasmine Lord (19 points) drove the lane for Foran’s first field goal. The Easties responded then with another 10-0 run, leading to Foran timeout with the Lions down an insurmountable 20-2.
Lord’s free throw stopped the deluge briefly, but East Haven (17-4) put the game away by outscoring the Lions 10-5 to close the quarter.
“I thought our pressure bothered them,” Russell said. “A lot of times our defense created our offense. We got up on them and cruised after that.”
Things got no easier for Foran (13-9) in the second frame, as East Haven held them to just three points over the next eight minutes. That stifling defensive effort helped the Yellowjackets extend their advantage to 42-11 at the half.
“Our rotations were good,” Russell said. “We communicated in transition and that led to a lot of steals and a lot of easy baskets and a lot of open looks.”
East Haven’s efficiency on both ends of the court simply overwhelmed the Lions, who upended crosstown rivals Jonathan Law in their first-round SCC matchup.
“Very tough to rebound,” Asmussen said of the Easties’ opening barrage. “They had all five of their girls consistently hit shots. We tried to take away a couple of their shooters to start the game, but they had everybody else step up… They’re just very tough.”
With two-time defending league champions Mercy eliminated by Hand in the first round, there will be a new SCC champion this year. East Haven, the reigning Class M state champion and last year’s league runner-up, is looking for the chalk to hold in its quest for its first SCC title.
“We are ready for everyone,” Helms said. “We’ve prepared for every team.”
EAST HAVEN 74, FORAN 38
East Haven (17-4): Helms 5 1-2 13 Curran 6 0-0 17 Ragaini 2 1-2 5 A. Pendziwater 3 0-0 9 Salato 5 0-0 10 Doheny 4 1-2 11 Munoz 0 3-4 3 Punzo 1 0-0 3 Solorzano 0 1-2 1 Vitello 1 0-0 2. Totals: 27 7-12 74.
Foran (13-9): Heenan 2 2-2 8 Inthapanhya 1 1-4 4 Tunucci 1 0-0 2 Lord 7 3-8 19 Mustane 1 0-0 2 Lucas 0 0-1 0 Collins 1 1-4 3. Totals: 13 7-19 38.
Foran 8 3 14 13— 38
East Haven 30 12 18 14— 74
3-pointers: F—Heenan 2, Lord 2, Inthapanhya; EH— Curran 5, Pendziwater 3; Helms 2; Doheny 2; Punzo.