MADISON — Hand girls’ basketball coach Tim Tredwell was well aware of the different start time for his team’s Southern Connecticut Conference opening-round game. The rest of his team may not have remembered.
Scoring just 17 points and trailing by four points at the half, the fifth-seeded Tigers responded with a dominant second half to defeat 12th-seeded East Haven 49-32 at Hand High Thursday night.
Hand advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals at Sheehan High against fourth-seeded Lyman Hall at 11:45 a.m. East Haven will now wait until the state tournament begins for its next contest.
“They (East Haven) came out and you could tell in warm ups they had a lot of energy,” Tredwell said after his team improved to 16-5. “They warmed up well and they were standing the whole game. I was concerned about this game.
“They went up 9-0 and I was a little concerned. We looked out-of-sync in the first half.”
While the Tigers struggled in the earlier start, East Haven jumped out to a quick lead and took a 14-9 advantage after one quarter as junior Jessica Benevento hit a pair of 3-pointers and Miranda Gladwin had five points.
East Haven (8-13) connected on just three field goals in the second quarter and was fortunate to be up at the half. Gladwin scored five of the team’s seven points in the quarter, but Olivia Jackson’s free throw sent Hand to the half trailing only 21-17.
“We played a bad game in the first half, and as bad as we had played for the first time in 20 games, we were only down four,” Tredwell said. “We were right in it. We had to be patient.”
The third quarter was the difference in the game.
Hand held an advantage on the boards with 10 offensive rebounds, outshot the Yellowjackets 27-8 and forced eight
turnovers in the quarter.
Hand’s Geena Catalano had 13 rebounds and Cassidy Wygonik finished with 12.
Hand held East Haven to just five points in the third quarter, field goals by Benevento and Jenna Gaudioso and a free throw by Benevento.
The Yellowjackets had no answer for Wygonik, who scored the team’s first eight points of the half for a 25-23 lead.
“The third quarter was the difference,” East Haven coach Anthony Russell said. “When you give a team 30 or 40 more opportunities, you are not going to win any game.”
Leading 30-26, Hand took control of the game with a 19-6 run in the final quarter. Ahead 34-28, baskets by Wygonik, Lauren Brandau, and Catalano increased the lead to 10 points.
“We settled down in the third quarter and we were able to get inside with our size advantage,” Tredwell said. “Our guards stepped up the pressure.
“Early in the season, the third quarter was our Achilles heel. Teams would either catch up or take the lead against us. We have since made adjustments.”
Brandau increased the lead to 47-32 before time expired as Hand ended the game by scoring the final eight points.
Gladwin led East Haven with 12 points, while Benevento had nine.
Catalano led Hand with 15 points, while Gillian Kraemer had 12 and Wygonik added 11.
Hand impressed from the free-throw line, connecting on 19-of-26 shots, while East Haven was just 7-of-14.
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