HAMDEN >> With a talented roster returning, East Haven expected to contend in the SCC after reaching the league tournament semifinals and the Class L quarterfinals a season ago.
But the Easties, who moved down to Class M this year, aren’t yet thinking about potential postseason success. Rather, East Haven is talking a game-by-game approach. The Easties dispatched a game Hamden squad 59-43 Monday in a contest that was much closer than the final score indicated.
East Haven, ranked No. 8 in the Register Poll, improved to 9-1. The Easties qualified for the state tournament with a victory over Amity in their previous game last Friday.
East Haven coach Anthony Russell was pleased with his team’s performance against the Green Dragons (4-3). Junior Kylie Schlottman scored 16 points, while junior Olivia Coyle and freshman Alexis Pendziwater each added 14 in this win.
“I was really satisfied by this game tonight,” Russell said. “I think it was, besides a few spots here and there, our first really complete game. I think Hamden’s a really good team, they have a lot of youth and athleticism. They have size, kids who can shoot and kids who can handle the ball. I thought we came in and played our most complete game tonight.”
Schlottman was her usual dominant self inside, while Coyle and Pendziwater led the perimeter game.
“I think it’s pretty difficult,” Schlottman said about containing the up-tempo and multiple threat East Haven offense. “We do a good job of sharing the ball. We go inside-out or, if we’re having a really good night shooting, we try to get the ball to our shooters or, if we’re having a really good night inside, we try to make sure to get the ball inside.”
Hamden cut the lead to four in the second quarter, but consecutive 3-pointers by Bella Ragaini and Pendziwater put East Haven back up 10. That, and the Green Dragons’ inability to finish shots, was the difference for the Easties.
“It’s next to impossible to defend when they get both elements of the game going,” Hamden coach Alan Stekloff said. “Our goal was to try to minimize their inside game and then we tried to cover the outside with a couple of different defenses. Kylie Schlottman is a great player, so we tried to limit her the best we could on the initial look.”
Makaela Johnson scored 15 points and Taniyah Thompson chipped in with 10 for Hamden, who has lost to unbeaten Trumbull, one-loss Mercy and now East Haven.
East Haven has won three in a row since losing to Career on Dec. 29. The Easties defeated defending SCC champ Hand 55-52 on Dec. 21.
“That’s what we do, we just take it game-by-game,” Schlottman said. “We just focus on whatever game we have next.”
EAST HAVEN 59, HAMDEN 43
East Haven 17 17 14 11 – 59
Hamden 13 10 11 9 – 43
EAST HAVEN (59)
Kylie Schlottman 7 2-4 16, Isabella Ragaini 2 2-2 7, Olivia Coyle 5 4-4 14, Ciara Mortimer 1 2-2 4, Jessica Stettinger 2 0-0 4, Alexis Pendziwater 5 0-0 14. Totals: 22 10-12 59
Tahjai Mazyck 1 1-2 3, Katie Esposito 2 0-0 4, Taniyah Thompson 4 2-3 10, Makaela Johnson 7 0-1 15, Sarah Streete 1 0-0 2, Rebecca Oberman-Levine 3 0-0 7, Abby McVerry 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 3-6 43
3-point goals: East Haven 5 (Ragaini 1, Pendziwater 4); Hamden 2 (Johnson 1, Oberman-Levine 1); Records: East Haven 9-1; Hamden 4-3