MADISON — Foran’s best start in recent memory came crashing to a halt Friday night.
The Lions, who had won 12 games in the previous three years combined but had won its first eight games this season, were humbled by Hand, 45-34, in a Southern Connecticut Conference Housatonic Division contest.
“We can’t look at 8-0 as accomplishing anything or one loss as the season,” Foran coach Bob Asmussen said. “The girls have been through a lot the last couple years, but this team is focused. We have a big week next week at Cheshire and then our rival with Law in Friday. We can’t look at one game as the whole season.”
Hand coach Tim Tredwell knew it would be a difficult night.
“They have a very good team that is physical and athletic with some size and speed,” Tredwell said. “There was nothing about this game that was easy.”
It was Sara Wohlgemuth who did most of the damage for the Tigers. The junior point guard scored 23 points, including four 3-pointers.
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“On most nights, she’s the best player in the gym,” Tredwell said. “To be able to have a kid like that who’s played in big moments, we’re thankful she plays for us.”
Foran started out looking like the unbeaten team it was coming in by taking an early 9-2 lead with Emma Lucas and Jasmine Lord (19 points) accounting for all nine of the Lions’ points.
But Hand went on an 11-0 run with Wohlgemuth leading the way with five of those points.
Hand took its biggest lead of the first quarter, 17-11, on back-to-back buckets by Wohlgemuth. However, a pair of buckets by Samantha Inthapanhya gave Foran the lead, 18-17, with 2:23 to play until halftime.
A basket by Julia Kuhn right before the buzzer finished off a 6-0 spurt that gave the Tigers a 23-18 edge at halftime.
After four points by Lord closed it to 26-22, Hand went on another run. This time it was 6-0 with Wohlgemuth hitting a three from the right side and Brooks Salutari with a conventional three-point play to push the Tigers’ lead into double figures at 32-22 with 4:02 remaining in the third quarter.
Foran kept it close with a 10-4 run as Lord and Mia Tunucci each canned a pair of buckets and then Inthapanhya hit a jumper at the buzzer to end the third quarter.
In the final 12 minutes Hand went away from man-to-man defense to play zone and it worked.
A pair of free throws by Lord closed it to 36-34 with 6:28 to play, but Hand went on a 9-0 run from there as Foran went scoreless from that point on.
“Every time we went with a man defense, Lord gave us trouble,” Tredwell said. “We went back to zone and the kids were patient, focused and aggressive.”
“We really couldn’t get there, but we battled,” Asmussen said. “We had too many turnovers and they killed us on the offensive boards. We forced tough shots, but they got too many second opportunity.”
Outside of Lord, no one else had more than seven points for the Lions.
“We were never really in a flow tonight,” Asmussen said. “Jasmine stepped up with 19 points and 11 rebounds, but we never got contributions from our other scorers tonight.”
Hand improved to 6-4 with the victory. The Tigers have played a brutal schedule with all four of their losses coming to teams (East Haven twice, Hamden and New London) ranked in the top seven in the New Haven Register state poll.
“We lost four seniors that went to the state semifinals to a young team with one senior,” Tredwell said. “They are learning as they go and I have to remind myself of that sometimes. We have high expectations around here and so do they. They don’t make excuses.”
HAND 45, FORAN 34
Lauren Heenan 0 0-0 0, Mia Tunucci 2 0-0 4, Sam Inthapanhya 3 0-0 7, Jasmine Lord 7 4-5 19, Emma Lucas 2 0-0 4, Bridget Collins 0 0-0 0, Courtney Musante 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 4-5 34.
Sara Wohlgemuth 9 1-2 23, Julia Kuhn 2 2-2 6, Anna Beccia 0 1-2 1, Summer Adams 2 0-2 4, Maddie Thomas 0 0-0 0, Taya Akers 0 0-0 0, Brook Salutari 3 1-2 7, Hadley Houghton 2 0-0 4. Totals 18 5-10 45.
3-pointers: Foran (Lord, Inthapanhya). Hand (Wohlgemuth 4).