MIDDLETOWN >> RHAM’s Sarah Veilleux showed why she was last year’s Connecticut Gatorade girls basketball player of the year Wednesday night at Middletown High.
The Sachems’ star poured in 37 points to lead her team to a season-opening 65-50 win over Middletown at the LaBella-Sullivan gym. Veilleux fueled an 11-0 RHAM run that turned a 23-21 deficit to a 32-23 lead in the closing minutes of the first half. Viellieux scored nine of those points.
RHAM never looked back after that.
“It took us a while to get going,” said RHAM coach Tim Guernsey. “Middletown has such quick guards and it took a while for us to adjust to that. But Sarah got us on a roll.”
Middletown led 12-11 after one and led 17-14 on a basket by Rajeen Mayo (20 points) early in the second half. MHS’ last lead came on a hoop by Mikaela Coady (nine points) before Veilleux kick-started the Sachems.
The winners built their lead to 51-34 after three and led by as many as 20 points at 56-36 early in the fourth quarter before settling for the 15-point win.
“I thought we played really well for the first 12 minutes,” said Middletown coach Rob Smernoff. “But Veilleux took over in the second quarter. There’s a reason why she is player of the year.”
Guernsey said that Veilleux makes everyone else better.
“It’s the greatest thing in the world to have her,” Guernsey said. “She always comes up with the big basket and she makes the other players feel comfortable, knowing that she’s there.
“I also thought some of our other kids played well, especially Alyssa Hansen and Maddie Haas inside. We passed the ball well inside and I was pleased with that.”
Smernoff saw some positives in the loss.
“Our guard play is the strength of our team,” Smernoff said. “I have four players on the perimeter who are seniors and all are improved. If we put forth the type of effort we did tonight, we will be in every game this year.”