MILFORD — Elena Petrie is just one of the West Haven gang.
Petrie, a sophomore forward, stepped out of the shadows with a five-point scoring splurge midway through the fourth quarter when West Haven won a 36-32 SCC game with Foran at the Edna Fraser Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Blue Devils coach Jessica Moriarty’s nine-player rotation is dominated by underclassmen, with Petrie one of four players receiving extended time off the bench.
“Elena is just a tough kid,” Moriarty said. “We had looks and nothing was falling. They went to a box-and-one on Amani (Abuhatab) and did a good job locking her up. So Elena stepped up big. She is such a tough kid and used her strength to her advantage.
“She was able to go on a little run for us offensively and then did a good job on (Mia) Tunucci who is a real good player. She did a very good job on her. We needed someone to step up and Elena rose to the occasion.”
— Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) January 16, 2020
Petrie’s followed a left-handed shot in traffic from the block by muscling in a 5-footer on the baseline to put the Westies on top 32-25.
“We have been playing together for a very long time,” said Petrie of the group that banded together in youth and then AAU ball. “I think because we have such a good relationship with one another…It’s pretty easy to play together.”
While neither squad lit up the scoreboard from the free-throw line, the Blue Devil’s Brianna Sebastian rebounded her own miss with 4.1 seconds remaining. A senior guard, Sebastian knocked down another freebie to extend the lead to 36-32. That negated any opportunity for the Lions to extend things with a 3-pointer.
“That rebound was huge,” Moriarty said. “We missed a bunch, but Brianna came up huge.”
— Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) January 16, 2020
“We went toe-to-toe with them,” Foran coach Bob Asmussen said. “It was a physical game and our players matched up well. We were 4-for 11 on free throws in the fourth quarter and that was the difference.”
Foran’s captains — Tunucci, Bridget Collins and Lauren Heenan — bring experience to the court. The rest of the Lions are newbies learning on the run.
“I thought our bench provided us with a major spark. We got contributions from two of our freshman Zoe Fallon and Mary Rodrigues,” Asmussen said. “Both of these girls have improved every day in practice and got there first major minutes. Zoe is also a great defender. I’m very excited and look for more from both of them.”
Fallon made a pull-up jumper to start the second quarter and Rodrigues hit a 3-pointer after a Tunucci block/rebound down the other end
Courtney Musante had 6 points in the frame as Foran turned a 7-6 deficit into a 17-14 lead at the half.
The Lions had focused on slowing Abuhatab, the Westies’ freshman sensation who was coming off back-to-back solid games against Sacred Heart Academy (13 points) and Mercy (16 points).
“Courtney Musante did a great job holding her (Abuhatab0 to two field goals, Asmussen said. “We worked to deny her the ball and squeeze down on her after every touch.”
Held scoreless, and limited by three fouls in the first two quarters, Abuhatab made her presence felt first with a game-tying three-point play to open the second half and then a pretty basket in transition.
With Kassidy Carrano, Tenique Gates and Davina Mendez limiting the Lions to one shot, West Haven came back to toe the game at 24-all going into the final period.
Freshman guard Dealyce Howard snapped a 24-all tie after three with a 3-pointer from the corner off one of junior point guard Sarah Evangelista’s five assists.
Petrie followed with five straight WH points.
Foran climbed back within 32-31 on a pair of Abby Sanwald free throws and a one-touch pass from Tunucci to freshman Zie Fallon for a layup.
Jayden Steinman made an acrobatic drive to the rim for a three-point lead. The junior traded free throws with the Lions’ Musante in the final 23 seconds.
Sebastian’s miss — then make —decided the contest.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
West Haven sophomore Elena Petrie made her points count. She also had a couple steals, a handful of rebounds, and played tough defense on the block.
“We have to learn when shots aren’t falling to make changes, how to attack and make free throws. As many shots as we missed, there are a bunch of freshman and sophomores out there, they hung tough, and pulled out a win.” — West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty
WEST HAVEN 36, FORAN 32
WEST HAVEN 7 7 10 12—36
FORAN 6 11 7 8—32