WALLINGFORD – Shooters shoot, as the saying goes.
Despite an off-night shooting-wise, Sheehan’s Jack McDonnell didn’t hesitate when he got an open look a couple feet behind the arc and his team down a point with just over a minute to go Thursday night.
The junior captain’s three-pointer hit nothing but net, starting a game-ending 8-0 Sheehan run to lift the Titans to a 70-63 win over Shelton in a Southern Connecticut Conference cross-over game at Sheehan High School Thursday night.
“After the way I shot the ball all game, it felt good to have that shot go in,” said McDonnell. “The most important stat is the number that goes in the left-hand column. Being 7-2 is really awesome.”
The Gaels (5-4) were left with a long bus ride a home thinking of what could have been.
Shelton turned the ball over 18 times in the first half but only trailed by two points at the intermission, 34-32.
“We turned the ball over unbelievably in the first half,” said Shelton coach Brian Gardiner. “You’re not going to beat a good team turning the ball over  times. I was shocked we were that close [at halftime] after turning the ball over that many times.”
Shelton improved its handle in the second half, only turning the ball over six times, and stood toe-to-toe with Sheehan until the game’s final minute.
The Gaels led 47-46 after Brian Belade ended the third quarter with a pretty scoop lay-up in traffic.
Sheehan went up by five points, 60-55, on a McDonnell fast break score with 3:05 left in the game.
Shelton answered with an 8-2 run, highlighted by a Peri Basimakopolous trey from the top of the arc to make it a 63-62 Shelton lead with 1:15 left.
But McDonnell’s clutch three-pointer 11 second later gave Sheehan the lead for good, and the Titans made five-of-six free throws in the closing minute to seal the victory.
Shelton’s big three of Belade, Basimakopolous and Melvin Kolenovic combined to score 57 of the team’s 63 points.
Belade, who missed the first meeting between the two teams –a 62-44 Sheehan win on opening night back in December — due to injury, scored a team-high 21 points
“We knew this one was going to be a close game, and that’s what we got,” said Gardiner, whose team saw its five-game win streak end Thursday night. “We just couldn’t get stops at the end.”
McDonnell led four Sheehan scorers in double figures with 22 points.
Garrett Molampy added 17 points, Arthur Cordes 13 and Tyler Carmen 11 for the Titans.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
“My shooters have the green light for the most part. If a guy’s stepping into a shot which [McDonnell] was, bang. He’s a good shooter, a clutch player, said Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano about Jack McDonnell’s game-winning trey. McDonnell scored a game-high 22 points, including seven points in the game’s final 1:04.
“I’m really proud of my kids tonight. I thought we showed some maturity in the face of some adversity. We lost a tough game the other night that we kind of felt we shouldn’t have lost. We did some things in the fourth quarter and overtime that led to our defeat. Tonight, we corrected that.” – Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano