UNCASVILLE >> The ride back from Mohegan Sun Arena is going to be a lot easier this year for Lauralton Hall.
After losing at the buzzer in last season’s Class LL final, the second-seeded Crusaders defeated fourth-seeded South Windsor 68-53 Saturday to capture the first basketball state title in school history.
“I’m so happy for them,” Crusaders coach Amanda Forcucci said. “Especially after last year, we knew we wanted to leave here with a totally different feeling.”
The Crusaders end the season at 26-1. Lauralton Hall senior Carly Fabbri, who is headed to Quinnipiac University to play for her mother, got her storybook ending.
“There’s no better way to finish off my senior year,” she said. “To win it here at Mohegan, it’s just awesome.”
South Windsor ends the season at 24-5. Olivia Bolden led the Bobcats with 17 points and seven rebounds. Molly Murphy had 15 points and Sara Jackson added 11 points.
Lauralton Hall was led by Emma McCarthy, who had 26 points and 17 rebounds. Fabbri added 15 points, Maggie Salandra had 14 points and Emily Menendez had nine points and seven rebounds.
The Crusaders trailed early in the first quarter, but held their composure and took a 26-23 lead going into the half. Salandra and Menedez were crucial in the second quarter, scoring 11 out of the team’s 15 points.
“They stepped up big time,” Fabbri said. “They really opened the gaps for us, I was struggling to get shots. I’m just thrilled with how they played.”
In the second half, Lauralton Hall held off each South Windsor run, thanks to the rugged, consistent play of McCarthy. Fabbri labored through a tough 4-for-18 shooting night as the Bobcats’ defense focused on keeping her out of rhythm. However, McCarthy took advantage of the overplay to Fabbri.
“(McCarthy) really hurt us,” South Windsor coach Don Leclerc said. “She had a lot of offensive put backs, going out in transition getting some buckets. It gave them a lift.”
In the fourth quarter, Lauralton Hall opened the lead out to double digits, hit free throws and finally was able to put last year behind it. And even though the Crusaders wanted to leave with a different feeling than last year’s, they were not in a hurry to leave Mohegan Sun.
“I don’t think we’ll go home,” Forcucci said, smiling. “I think we’ll stay around a bit.”
LAURALTON HALL 68, SOUTH WINDSOR 53
(at Lauralton Hall)
South Windsor 4 9 12 18 – 53
Lauralton Hall 11 15 18 24 – 68
SOUTH WINDSOR (53)
Molly Murphy 5 5-5 15, Kristina Russo 2 0-1 4, Olivia Bolden 8 0-2 17, Sara Jackson 4 1-1 11, Alex Goslin 0 0-0 0, Christina Rozie 1 2-4 4, Alex Hill 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 8-13 53
LAURALTON HALL (68)
emma mccarthy 6 14-22 26, Maggie Salandra 4 5-5 14, Carly Fabbri 4 6-8 15, Maureen Connolly 1 2-4 4, emily menendez 3 2-2 9. Totals: 18 29-41 68
3-point goals: South Windsor 3 (Bolden 1, Jackson 2); Lauralton Hall 3 (Salandra 1, Fabbri 1, menendez 1); Records: South Windsor 23-4; Lauralton Hall 26-1