— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) February 16, 2018
WOODBRIDGE – Amity junior Tara Laugeni likes the way her team’s defense makes the offense go. Laugeni had to like what she saw Thursday evening.
Holding Lyman Hall to just ten points in the second half, fifth-seeded Amity defeated No. 12 Lyman Hall 46-27 in the opening round of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament at Amity High.
With the win, Amity (12-9) advances to the SCC quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at 12:45 p.m. against fourth-seeded Hamden, a 76-38 winner over Shelton, at Sheehan High in Wallingford.
“We have great endurance,” Laugensi said after finishing with a game-high 23 points. “We have two great players up top and we have a good rotation down low. We know we can’t play offense if we don’t make the stops on defense.”
With the game even at 17 with just under five minutes to go in the first half, Amity closed the game on a 29-10 run. Included in that stretch was a 13-0 run which gave Amity a 39-22 lead.
“We hit a lot of outside shots and our defense definitely picked up,” Amity coach Michelle Shoop said. “We were able to rebound and push the ball.”
For the Trojans, the opening round contest was a case of the ball not dropping. Lyman Hall (10-11) connected just three times outside of the free throw line in the second half, all coming in the third quarter on 3-pointers by Kailey Lipka and Hailey Bruneau, and a basket by Bruneau.
Lyman Hall was unable to connect from the field in the fourth quarter, managing just single free throws from Theresa Lynch and Kelly Fernandez.
“We got some looks, but the shots just did not fall,” Lyman Hall coach Tom Lipka said. “Some games we shoot really well, and in others, we can’t get anything to fall. That is basketball. Amity is a good team. They have a couple of quick kids. We held then to 46 points which is good, but we struggled to score.”
With the game even at 17 in the second quarter, the Spartans scored the final six points of the half on a pair of baskets by Laugeni, and two free throws by Hayley Esparo.
After Lipka got the Trojans within 26-22 with a 3-pointer in the third quarter, Amity scored the next 13 points to put the contest away.
Laugeni opened the run with a basket, Jillian Martin followed with a 3-pointer, and Esparo increased the margin to 33-22. Laugeni scored the next four points and Jenna Van Hise caped the stretch. By the time Bruneau hit a 3-pointer to close out the quarter for the Trojans, Amity held a 39-24 lead.
“We knew Lyman Hall was a tough team,” Shoop said. “(Lipka) is a great player and we knew we had to contain her. (Bruneau) is also tough. I thought we did a great job.”
Any thoughts of a Lyman Hall comeback quickly faded in the fourth quarter when Amity’s Amanda Granados hit a 3-pointer for an 18-point advantage.
“Coming off our last couple of wins, to win our first postseason game is good for us,” Shoop said. “Hopefully it continues. We know we have tough games coming up.”
Granados added 11 points for Amity, and Esparo finished with five in the win. Bruneau led Lyman Hall with 11 points, while Lipka finished with eight.
Amity 46, Lyman Hall 27
LYMAN HALL – 8 9 8 2 – 27
AMITY – 11 12 16 7 – 46
Julia Capello 1 0-0 2; Kailey Lipka 3 0-0 8; Hailey Bruneau 3 4-4 11; Elise Hastings 0 0-2 0; Theresa Lynch 1 1-2 3; Kelly Fernandez 1 1-2 3 Totals 9 6-10 27
Amanda Granados 3 3-4 11, Tara Laugeni 1- 3-3 23; Hayley Esparo 2 1-2 5; Jill Martin 1 0-3 3; Jenna Van Hise 1 0-2 2; Mya Manzione 0 1-2 1; Meadow Blakeslee 0 1-2 1 Totals 17 9-18 46
3-Pointers: L – Lipka (2), Bruneau (1), A – Granados (2), Martin (1)