MILFORD – Branford girls basketball coach Justin Henry has been preaching to his team to get the ball inside. Knowing the outside shots come and go, Henry wants his team to focus on getting the easy buckets.
The Hornets listened to his wishes as they jumped out to an early lead and rolled to a 47-29 victory over Foran in the Milford Holiday Classic at Jonathan Law Thursday afternoon.
“We want to hit those jump shots,” Henry said. “We made a lot early. If you live by the three, you also die by the three. We keep talking about getting the ball inside. We want to move the ball and make the defense move. I thought we did that.”
Behind seven points from Sophia Araneo and five more from Emma Pierson in the opening quarter, the Hornets jumped out to a 14-6 lead. When Araneo hit a bucket with four minutes, 43 seconds left in the first half, the Hornets were out to a 24-10 advantage.
“We have been able to keep up the intensity instead of letting down,” Araneo said. “We have been able to maintain our focus. We have more trust in reach other. We are getting better with moving the ball. We are more cohesive.”
The ball movement by the Hornets (4-2) led to a balanced scoring attack in which Araneo led the way with 18 points. Karly King had 12 points and Pierson added 10 more. Araneo and King each drained a pair of 3-pointers.
For the Lions (0-6), it was a case of getting started too late as they held Branford without a field goal in the third quarter until King drained a 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining to extend Branford’s lead to 33-21. Foran had used a pair of baskets by Jasmine Lord and another by Samantha Inthapanhya to get within 30-21 with 1:55 left in the third quarter.
“We are trying to find consistency,” Foran coach Bob Asmussen said. “We are a fairly young team. We have a lot of new starters this year. When we play well, it has been our defense which keeps us in games. We had trouble finding consistency. We held them. (Araneo) is a really good player. We did a much better job as the game went on with how we handled them. We had the open shots, but they just didn’t fall.”
Marisa Minore extended Branford’s lead to 35-21 to start the fourth quarter, and King had a pair of baskets in succession to extend the Branford lead to 41-25.
“We have such chemistry on the bench,” Araneo said. “I love the chemistry we have. I know we can count on all the girls.”
Foran got as close as 41-29 on a bucket by Mia Tunucci with 1:45 left, but Pierson drained a pair of free throws, then stole a pass on the ensuing play, leading to a bucket by Victoria Raffone for a 16-point lead.
“We started the third with a little bit of a lull,” Henry said. “We were not attacking the basket. Once we got the ball down there, good things started to happen.”
Jasmine Lord led Foran with 12 points, while Tunucci and Jade Lord added five points each.