SHELTON >> Guilford coach Bob Welch wasn’t sure what to expect from his Indians on a Friday night trip to Shelton at the end of midterm exam week.
But Guilford more than passed the test against a talented Gaels squad. Buoyed by a stingy defensive effort, the Indians posted a 63-40 SCC interdivision victory.
“These kids had exam week this week, and I wasn’t sure what we were going to get on an away Friday night game,” Welch said. “But I told them that defense is the one constant we have and they played the most sustained defensive effort of the year I thought. This team (Shelton) was 7-3 and I thought we didn’t give them a good look almost the entire night.”
While the defense was a standout, Guilford (9-4) also dominated on the boards, especially on the offensive glass, which allowed the Indians to take a 16-5 lead after one quarter. Guilford led 33-19 at halftime.
“We defended the first shot fairly well,” Shelton coach Joe Cavallaro said. “We didn’t defend the second and third shot very well. I think they had taken 35, 36 shots by halftime. That’s a lot in a girls high school basketball game, especially in a game that wasn’t terribly fast paced. We got beat on second and third shots.”
The Indians had a size advantage with 5-foot-10 senior Camryn Craig, 5-9 junior Molly Linell, 5-9 sophomore Janie Danaher and 5-8 senior Amanda King, who finished with a team-high 19 points. Craig tallied 18 points and was a force in the paint.
“I don’t think it even had much to do with that (size),” Craig said. “We just got position and boxed out pretty well.”
King added that her team entered focused despite most being mentally drained after midterms.
“It was really nice to get the win,” Craig said. “We knew they were tough competition and we were also coming off midterm week, so we were all a little slow. He (Welch) thought we weren’t focused enough in the beginning, but we showed him and proved ourselves.”
Casey O’Connor scored a team-high 17 points for the Gaels (7-4), who saw a three-game winning streak come to an end. Em Bronson added 10 points.
“I’ve been very pleased,” Cavallaro said. “We’ve been playing really hard, and we’ve been aggressive. We had a stretch where we’ve played six games that were tied in the fourth quarter — six consecutive games. I’ve been coaching a long time and that’s never happened. We lost the first one in overtime and then won four of the next five. We’ve been able to battle towards the end but, they (Guilford) played well and they certainly deserved to win.”
Guilford has now won three in a row and seven of its last eight.
“I was real happy with this,” Welch said. “It puts us at 9-4 and now we’re setting our sights on one-at-a-time. I think we have a goal of trying to host a tournament game in Guilford for the first time in a long time. That’s a good goal for our team, so we’re working on that.”
GUILFORD 63, SHELTON 40
Guilford 16 17 20 10 – 63
Shelton 5 14 13 8 – 40
Kayley McLaughlin 2 0-0 5, Izzy Nerney 4 0-1 9, Camryn Craig 8 2-2 18, Julia Hyman 1 1-2 4, Janie Danaher 1 5-8 7, Amanda King 8 0-0 19, Molly Linell 0 1-2 1. Totals: 24 9-15 63
Sarah Skoronski 1 0-0 3, Kat Arena 0 2-2 2, Emiline Bronson 4 1-1 10, Leya Vohra 1 0-0 2, Kayla Resto 1 2-2 4, Mackenzie Joyce 1 0-0 2, Casey O’Connor 8 1-2 17. Totals: 16 6-7 40
3-point goals: Guilford 6 (McLaughlin 1, Nerney 1, Hyman 1, King 3); Shelton 2 (Skoronski 1, Bronson 1); Records: Guilford 9-4; Shelton 7-4