MILFORD– The opportunity to advance in the Southern Connecticut Conference girls basketball playoffs only upped the stakes when No. 8 Jonathan Law played host to No. 9 Foran at the James L. Richetelli Sr. Gymnasium on Thursday night.
The city rivals had split overtime decisions in the regular season, with Foran winning the first game 60-55 and Law taking the second 50-47.
It was the Lions walking off the court with hands raised after a hard-fought, 49-44 decision over the Eagles.
Foran (14-7) will play No. 1 East Haven (16-4) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Sheehan High in Wallingford.
“I’m so proud of my girls for making the necessary adjustments in the second half and from the last game to beat a great opponent in our cross town rival Law,” Foran coach Bob Asmussen said.
“Winning an SCC game is hard enough, let alone winning an SCC playoff game. It was truly a team victory, as everyone made significant contributions. It was ourfirst SCC playoff victory since 2011.
“I thought (especially) in the second half we got the ball to the corner, where we could begin our inside game. We began to take advantage of what I thought was an advantage inside.
“Movement is the key. The last time they beat us with their press. Tonight, Sam Inthapanhya, Lauren Heenan and Jasmine Lord were able to see the floor and pass the ball ahead for some layups.”
Mia Tunucci scored 13 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked three shots for the Lions.
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“It feels great,” said Tunucci, a 5-foot-9 junior forward. “It means so much. To have our seniors have an opportunity like this (in the SCC tournament) is special.”
Tunucci was joined in double-figure scoring by seniors Inthapanhya (12 points) and Lord (11 points.
“This is our first time in the SCCs in many years,” said the 5-foot-2 Inthapanhya, who played a key role in Foran’s breaking pressure and earning baskets from her point guard position. “It feels good to be part of a team that advances our program.
“We always take the court with heart. Playing here at Law only added to that. They are very good and we worked hard to match their shooters (defensively) and run the court.”
Jonathan Law’s Fallon Andriolas’ three-pointer brought the deficit to 44-40 with 2:15 remaining. Her fourth three gave her 18 points, but it was the Lady Lawmen’s last basket until Cali Jolley hit from long range to complete the scoring.
“They deserved the result,” Law coach Dan Young said of Foran. “In a rivalry game you always have to grind it out and that is what they did tonight.”
The Lady Lions took an 8-0 lead on three-pointers from sophomore Heenan (nine points), Inthapanhya and two Lord free throws.
Law (14-7) closed within 9-8 at the break, with senior’s Jolley (eight points) and Andriolas making threes. Sophomore Maddie Lula scored from the lane off a pass from classmate Liv Kowalski.
A drive by Foran freshman Courtney Musante sent her team into the half up 17-15.
Andriolas had five points in the second quarter, and Law freshman Shelby Green took the ball to the basket for another hoop.
Behind Tunucci and Inthapanhyi, Foran held a 31-21 lead six minutes into the third quarter.
Tunucci scored two baskets, around a putback bucket by Law’s Jillian Hall. The first came off a rebound and the second on a well-executed high-low pass from Lord.
The Lions then went on an 12-4 run, with Inthapanhya scoring off a turnover, making two free throws after being fouled on a drive, and hitting a spot-up three-pointer.
Heenan buried a three off a Lord assist and Tunucci had another basket off the glass.
Again, Law stayed in it.
Samara Thacker’s free throw and jump shot was followed by Jolley’s foul line jumper.
Green’s nifty drive across the lane and Andriolas’ well-timed three-pointer off a kick-out pass by Kowalski took the score to 36-30 with one period to play.
Lula’s jumper and another aggressive trip to the rim by Green (eight points) made it a two-point game.
Law looked to press it’s way into the lead, only to be stymied by Inthapanhya, Heenan and the well-prepared Lions.
Musante, Tunucci and Lord all scored on press-break baskets over the next three minutes.
Toss in a long entry pass from Lord to Tunucci for a bucket on the block, and Foran had extended its lead to 46-40 with 1:20 remaining.
Lord converted two freebies, and Heenan one, before Jolley’s final basket.
FORAN 49, LAW 44
Laura Heneen 3 1-2 9, Sam Inthapanha 3 4-7 12, Mia Tunucci 5 3-4 13, Jasmine Lord 3 4-4 11, Courtney Musante 2 0-2 4. Totals: 16 12-19 49
Cali Jolley 3 0-0 8, Fallon Andriolas 5 4-6 18, Samara Thacker 1 1-2 3, Pam Ellison 0 0-0 0, Liv Kowalski 0 0-2 0, JIll Hall 1 0-0 2, Shelby Green 4 0-2 8, Katie Konareski 0 0-0 0, Maddie Lula 2 1-2 5. Totals: 17 6-12 44
Foran 9 8 19 13 – 49
Law 8 7 15 14 – 44
3-point goals: Foran (Inthapanha 2, Heneen 2, Lord 1); Law (Andriolas 4, Jolley 2)