MIDDLETOWN >> The annual Capital Prep versus Mercy showdown is one of the highlights of the girls basketball season. The Top 10 heavyweight battle between championship programs once again drew a huge crowd Monday night in Middletown.
And it took a huge three-point basket from senior guard Lizahya Morgan to keep the second-ranked Trailblazers from losing to a Connecticut team for the first time since 2012.
Morgan poured in a game-high 23 points and junior guard Deasia Stevenson added 11 points to lift Capital Prep to a thrilling 49-46 non-league win over the sixth-ranked Tigers.
“Any time you play one of the better teams in Connecticut it’s going to be a great game,” Capital Prep coach Tammy Millsaps said. “A couple of years ago we beat them by 40 but those games are gone. We still have a very young team, understanding what it takes to win. I’m just happy we pulled out a win tonight.”
Mercy (8-2) trailed 43-37 at the end of three quarters before reeling off nine straight points in the fourth quarter. Senior Kerri Kernisan rolled in a layup to tie it at 43 with 3:14 left to play.
Junior guard Bella Santoro drained a huge three-pointer from the corner and Mercy led 46-43 with just 2:00 remaining.
Morgan, however, answered with a huge top-of-the-key trey to tie it.
“That was a backbreaker,” Mercy coach Tim Kohs said. “We had the momentum and she just stuffed it in our heart.
It was obviously the play of the game. And we never scored again.”
Capital Prep (7-2) regained possession after sophomore Cassandra Hawthorne blocked a shot in the paint. Angelique Rodriguez’s free throw gave the Trailblazers a 47-46 lead and after Mercy missed a field goal, Morgan sank two free throws for a 49-46 advantage with just 39 seconds left.
Mercy, which trailed 27-20 at halftime, had a couple of opportunities at the end but couldn’t convert a pair of 3-pointers in the final seconds.
Kernisan finished with 13 points, Santoro had 10 points, while junior Samantha Chapps added nine points for the Tigers.
“We didn’t do a good job getting the ball to Meghan (DeVille) tonight,” Kohs said. “We have an advantage in the post with her and that’s a credit to Capital Prep. They pressure the guards and make it hard to find anybody.”
DeVille finished with only three points.
“We need to score more,” Kohs added.
The Trailblazers were coming off a loss to Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.) on Saturday. Capital Prep’s last loss against a Connecticut team came against Coginchaug in the 2012 Class S state final.
“We like to play tough games,” Millsaps said. “Winning championships requires you to be in a dogfight. You’re up by two with a minute to go in the game. You’re down by four in the fourth quarter. All those things help you win championships.”