SHELTON — A strong second-half performance carried Shelton to a 50-34 Southern Connecticut Conference girls’ basketball win over Branford at Murray Gymnasium on Friday night.
In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, the Hornets used sharp perimeter shooting and trailed by just two points, 18-16, at the half. The Gaelettes, who improved to 10-1, then went on a 17-5 run that spanned the entire third quarter to erase any chance of an upset bid.
“We knew what we had to do,” said Shelton’s Leya Vohra, who scored a game-high 20 points. “We came together as a team.”
After a stagnant start for Shelton, Vohra’s ability to beat Branford’s defense with drives in the line keyed the second-half resurgence. The senior guard netted 14 points over the final 16 minutes, while setting up teammates Clarissa Pierre (11 points) and Devan Wildman (10 points) for easy baskets in the post.
“We kept attacking the rim,” Shelton head coach Joe Cavallaro said. “We wore them down. We put pressure on them inside. They had to drop off our bigs to get Leya. Leya either took it to the basket or dumped it in. We got a lot of layups off that.”
Three-point shots from Gabriella Lucertini, Karly King and Ava Stratton kept the Hornets (1-9) within striking distance in the first half, but they made just one from beyond the arc in the second half.
“They pressured us, they played hard,” Cavallaro said. “They stayed in the game with threes… But we beat them from short range.”
Once the 3-pointers stopped falling for Branford, the Gaelettes were able to build an insurmountable advantage, despite attempting just one 3-pointer of their own in the game.
“We tried to sustain some of the momentum we had in the first half,” Branford head coach Robert Manghnani said. “We just couldn’t. We couldn’t box-out as much as we wanted to, and we got worn down by their bigs and their guard play.”
Vohra also got the foul line seemingly at will in the second half, knocking down 6-for-9 from the stripe.
“Our game plan was to drive and get fouls,” Vohra said.
Overall, Shelton converted 14-of-19 free throws, while Branford made 3-of-5.
“We knew a good team, a big team and experienced team like Shelton playing really well,” Manghnani said, “We knew it was going to be difficult in the second half.”