RIVALRY BASKETBALL: Sheehan savors the momentum — and moment — of the sweep

RIVALRY BASKETBALL: Sheehan savors the momentum — and moment — of the sweep



reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — The stands were packed and the atmosphere was electric for Monday night’s Sheehan-Lyman Hall basketball doubleheader.

The host Titans thrilled their fans with a second twinbill sweep this season of the rival Trojans.

The Sheehan girls opened the night with a 58-53 win and the boys followed with a 75-45 victory.

Game 1 featured two of the most elite scorers to ever come through the two Wallingford schools, Sheehan’s Liv Robles and Lyman Hall’s Kailey Lipka. Both eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone earlier this season and have been stalwarts on their squads for the past four years.

The two stars didn’t disappoint Monday. Despite sitting out five minutes in the first half with foul trouble, Robles netted a team-high 19 points. Likpa poured in a game-high 21 points, with 16 coming in the second half.

That two-point difference gave Lipka the regular-season scoring title in the Record-Journal coverage area. Lipka had 327 points to Robles’ 326. (Cheshire’s Mia Juodaitis was third at 314.)

While Lipka and Robles were the catalysts for their respective squads Monday night, each had plenty of support. For Lyman Hall:

■Sophomore guard Brianna Mik canned a trey at the end of the first quarter to stop a lengthy Sheehan run; ■Junior guard Hailey Bruneau poured in 14 points, including seven straight at the end of the third quarter as the Trojans opened up their biggest lead;■Senior forward Theresa Lynch pumped in 10 points in the post.

“Lyman Hall presents a lot of problems,” Sheehan coach Mike Busillo said. “Their guards are very active. We didn’t do everything we wanted to do. It’s not always going to be perfect, but you try to persevere and you hope you pull through.”

Two sophomores excelled on Monday night for Sheehan:

■Hayleigh Lagase netted nine points and played more offensive-minded when Robles was on the bench in the second quarter;■Caitlyn Hunt scored 12 points and continued to be a force in the post; she and Robles fed each other interior passes throughout on Monday.

Hunt was most clutch down the stretch in Sheehan’s decisive 11-2 run that turned a 48-43 deficit with 5:29 to go to a 54-50 advantage with 1:52 remaining. After Robles tied the game with an old-fashioned 3-point play, Hunt poured in back-to-back buckets to put the Titans on top for good.

Sheehan junior forward Maddi Larkin sealed the win blocking a shot that potentially could have tied the game in the closing seconds.

The Titans completed the regular season at 14-6. The Trojans came away at 9-11, following a 2-8 first half with a red-hot 7-3 second half.

“We are playing our best basketball of the season right now,” said Lyman Hall coach Tom Lipka, looking ahead to the postseason. “We like our chances. The kids are playing hard and battling, and that’s all that you can ask for.”

As for Monday’s boys game, the final score was deceptive. Sheehan broke open what was a competitive contest for 27 minutes with a 25-5 run over the final five.

Regardless of what Lyman Hall coach Rob Ruys and the Trojans threw out there defensively, the Titans couldn’t miss. Jack McDonnell (22 points) and Garrett Molampy (18 points) spearheaded the Sheehan attack, but everyone got into the action. Junior Arthur Cordes canned three 3-pointers.

The cheers hit their apex when senior Timothy Tangari came off the bench and drilled a 3-ball. He scored six points in the contest’s closing minutes.

“We’ve been working hard all year,” Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano said. “We’ve had three straight good games now. We have Shelton on Friday and then we will have time to regroup and work on the next part of our season.

“This group is a resilient group,” the veteran coach added. “It’s not just Garrett and Jack. We have a lot of weapons and it was a total team effort (Monday). Everyone contributed — Arthur, Kris (Jackson), Caden (Cloutier), Mark (Amodio) and Tyler (Carmen).”

Gaetano noted that Molampy wasn’t at full health the last few games due to nagging injuries. Six days between Sheehan’s previous game, an 82-56 win over North Haven on Feb. 5, and Monday night’s rematch with Lyman Hall proved beneficial for the junior guard.

“(Monday) was one of better games we’ve played all season,” Molampy said. “Our energy was good on both sides of the floor.”

The Titans are 12-7 heading into Friday’s regular-season finale, with the SCC conference and CIAC Division IV state tournaments looming after that.

With only three seniors on the roster — Amodio, Cloutier and Tangari — Gaetano is excited about the program’s future, not to mention the coming postseason.

“I think we are a dangerous team to play,” the Sheehan coach said. “The team is starting to gel. Everyone has found their role. We know what they can do. We don’t lose anything when guys come in off the bench. I think we are ready for the postseason and we have what it takes to advance.”

Though only a sophomore, McDonnell has played above and beyond for the Titans.

“When people look at Jack they see a kid shooting long-range jump shots,” Gaetano said. “He has grown so much as a player. He grabs seven or eight rebounds a game. He’s a competitor and a communicator. People forget he’s only a sophomore.”

Lyman Hall, meanwhile, dropped to 5-13 and was eliminated from playoff contention with Monday’s loss.

A couple bright spots were senior co-captains Austin Ruiz and Cam Regan. Ruiz netted a career-high 24 points in the win. Regan put up six points, six blocks and 10 rebounds.


Advertisement

Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.

Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢

Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.

Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢