WALLINGFORD — The Sheehan girls basketball team had the advantage of being on its home court and the added lift of the unexpected return of senior point guard Lexi Ocasio.
What the Titans didn’t have was the No. 1 seed. That belonged to their opponent, the Mercy Tigers, who scored a 72-39 victory over the home team in the first of four SCC Tournament quarterfinals Saturday at Sheehan.
The Tigers, the defending SCC champions, put four players in double figures as they improved to 20-1 and advanced to Monday’s semifinals at Jonathan Law. Sheehan, the No. 8 seed, fell to 15-7 and awaits its Class M state tournament pairing, which will be unveiled Wednesday.
Liv Robles led the Titans with nine points. Maddi Larkin pitched in with seven. Hayleigh Lagase, Caitlyn Velez and Caitlyn Hunt had five apiece.
“I thought we fought hard,” said Sheehan coach Mike Busillo. “Mercy shot the ball extremely well, and that’s probably an understatement. It’s really the first time in a while we’ve faced any adversity. I was proud of our effort, but obviously we want to play better. There were things we could have done better, but Mercy is 20-1 for a reason.”
An important subplot to Saturday’s game and Sheehan’s state tournament chances was the return of Ocasio. The Titans thought they had lost their veteran point guard to an ACL injury. An MRI revealed the ACL was fine and Ocasio was cleared to play.
“Lexi is healthy,” said Busillo. “That’s a huge lift for us. This was her first game in a week, so the fact that she was able to get out there and compete at a high level is huge.”
Mercy simply had too much firepower Saturday, shooting with video-game precision. The Tigers hit four 3-pointers en route to 25 points in the first quarter alone.
Sheehan, meanwhile, got off to a very slow start. Mercy’s stifling defense forced turnovers and made the the Titans work for every open look. They scored nine points in the quarter on three 3-pointers, two coming from Robles.
After getting punched in the mouth in the first quarter, Sheehan’s defense came out with much more energy in the second and allowed just 12 points.
Mercy’s defense, however, continued to give the Titans fits and did not easy looks around the basket. Robles hit another three to give her nine points in the first half, which ended with Mercy ahead 37-19.
Mercy exploded again on the offensive end in the third quarter and continued to force turnovers with pressure defense, which led to several open looks in transition. The Titans did manage to score 10 points in the frame, getting to the free throw line a few times when they began working the ball inside.
Sheehan trailed the Tigers 56-29 heading into the fourth. A few minutes into the final quarter Mercy began emptying its bench and Sheehan followed suit.
Bella Santoro led Mercy with 18 points. Kameryn King had 17 off some lethal spot-up shooting. Lexi Leon and Meghan DeVille added 12 points apiece.
Mercy will meet No. 4 Hamden in Monday’s semifinals. Hamden (18-4) gouged No. 5 Amity 70-43 in Saturday’s second quarterfinal.