MILFORD >> After a dicey opening quarter, host Lauralton Hall more than held its own against No. 3 and unbeaten Trumbull.
It wasn’t until a Trumbull run late in the third quarter that put the Eagles ahead for good. Even then, the Crusaders made Trumbull earn every point.
The Eagles eventually earned a 56-50 victory in a thrilling non-conference contest Wednesday.
Although coaches seldom like moral losses, Lauralton Hall coach Amanda Forcucci was more than pleased with her team’s performance.
“Unbelievably pleased,” Forcucci said. “We’ve been working hard in practice on doing the little things. We don’t generally come out every night and shoot the ball well. We’re not a team that’s going to shoot 50, 60 percent from the floor, so we’ve been working hard on defensive positioning, defensive transition, pressing, less turnovers.
“I think we did those little things tonight. When you’re doing those things against a top team in the state, absolutely I was pleased.”
After trailing 20-15 at halftime, the Crusaders (2-10) tied the game at 24 in the third quarter before Trumbull went on a 12-5 run to close out the quarter.
The Eagles (13-0) led by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter but Lauralton closed to within six with 30 seconds remaining. Trumbull then connected on 3-of-6 from the free throw line to remain unbeaten.
“We told the girls that this is a great non-league game for us to come and step out of our league in mid-January,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said. “We knew we were going to get a great game from Lauralton Hall, they’re very well-coached. All those girls play really hard and they competed right up to that last minute. I thought our girls met the challenge.”
Trumbull senior Taylor Brown had eight of her 16 points during that run that gave the Eagles the lead for good in the third quarter.
“We were real happy (during that stretch),” Tobitsch said. “We kept telling them that they had to keep competing, that their getting great competition tonight from Lauralton, and I thought we matched their intensity and the competition level.
“We gave up too many points in our book, on the scoreboard, but I was happy with how we kept competing and kept coming back at them. This was a good high school basketball game. I thought it was a well-played game by both teams. This was a great mid-season test for us before we head back to into the remainder of the FCIAC schedule.”
Senior Claudia Tucci scored a game-high 19 points for Trumbull, who defeated another SCC school, Hamden, by 13 in the season opener.
“A lot of our girls were in foul trouble, but the rest of the team definitely picked us up,” Tucci said. “That helped, and we were able to get the win.”
Senior Colleen McCarthy scored 15 points, while senior Trish Gildea added 14 for the Crusaders. Lauralton Hall has now lost six in a row, but the schedule has been challenging. The Crusaders have lost to Hamden, Hand and East Haven during streak in addition to losses to Career, St. Joseph, Holy Cross and Mery earlier in the season.
“We have a lot of young kids that are cycling in,” Forcucci said. “We start three sophomores, some sophomores come off the bench. We have some juniors who saw no varsity time last year that are coming off the bench. They’re playing in some big-time games, and they’re not afraid. That’s what makes us a competitive team.”
TRUMBULL 59, LAURALTON HALL 50
Trumbull 13 7 16 23 – 59
Lauralton Hall 3 12 14 21 – 50
Jessica Lipinski 2 2-2 8, Claudia Tucci 5 9-13 19, Aisling Maguire 5 0-0 10, Julie Keckler 1 0-0 2, Victoria Ray 0 2-2 2, Brady Lynch 1 0-0 2, Taylor Brown 5 3-5 16. Totals: 19 16-22 59
LAURALTON HALL (50)
Liz Spahn 1 2-2 5, Colleen McCarthy 6 0-0 15, Julia Sendzik 0 4-6 4, Lauren Dowling 1 0-0 2, Trish Gildea 5 3-7 14, Lauren Adams 3 0-0 6, Julia Haskin 2 0-2 4. Totals: 18 9-17 50
3-point goals: Trumbull 5 (Lipinski 2, Brown 3); Lauralton Hall 5 (Spahn 1, McCarthy 3, Gildea 1); Records: Trumbull 13-0; Lauralton Hall 2-10