WALLINGFORD — Maddi Larkin sealed Sheehan’s season sweep of cross-town rival Lyman Hall with an emphatic block in the closing seconds as the host Titans, playing on their home floor, collected a 58-53 SCC girls basketball victory over the Trojans on Monday night.
The Titans held a 56-53 lead with 8.7 seconds left and the Trojans needed a 3-ball. They swung the ball along the top of the perimeter before Larkin came up with the swat that effectively ended the game.
“It’s a great feeling to come through for the team,” Larkin said. “Coach kept saying, ‘No three’s.’ I knew they were going for a three and I knew I had to get her.”
The Titans ended the game on a 11-3 run after the squads went back and fourth in the second half. The TItans dominated play early on before the Trojans made their run in the second half behind senior Kailey Lipka, who finished with a game-high 21 points, and Hailey Bruneau (14 points).
Sheehan (14-6) never trailed in the opening half, holding a 27-24 advantage at the break. Liv Robles, who led the Titans with 19 points. led all scorers at the half with 11 points.
The Titans scored the first seven points of the contest. Robles hit a trey and then she and Caitlyn Hunt (12 points) assisted each other on the next two hoops.
The Trojans (9-11) missed their first six shots until Theresa Lynch (10 points) came through with an old-fashioned 3-point play set up by Lipka. Julia Capello followed with a 3-pointer as the Trojans closed to within 7-6.
Sheehan responded with a 7-0 spurt that featured a pair of free throws by Caitlyn Velez, a Robles 3-pointer and a Larkin layup to open up a 14-6 edge.
“We started out slow,” LH coach Tom Lipka said. “They brought some pressure on us and we weren’t going to the ball. But we played a hard-fought four quarters. They just made one more play than we did.”
Sophomore Brianna Mik came off the Lyman Hall bench and dropped in a 3-ball at the first-quarter buzzer that made the score 14-9 Sheehan.
Mik then collected a steal on the Titans’ first possession of the second quarter and that theft resulted in a Kailey Lipka 3-point play as the visitors drew within 14-12.
A few minutes later, Robles reached in and collected her second foul at the 5:54 mark of the second quarter and her team leading 18-17. Her team responded as 5-foot-10 sophomore Hayleigh Lagase (9 points) drove to the hole on consecutive possessions.
Lagase also had a block to set up a Sydney Rossacci layup as the Titans went up 24-17 with 2:06 remaining in the second quarter.
Lyman Hall tied the game with a quick 7-0 spurt in just over a minute. Grace Gagliardi canned a pair from the line, Bruneau buried a 3-ball and Lynch drove to tie the game, 24-24.
Re-enter Robles, who came off the bench on Sheehan’s final possession to drill a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the 27-24 halftime lead.
Kailey Lipka came out of the halftime locker room on her game. She scored 10 of Lyman Hall’s first 12 points of the third quarter and canned a trey at the 4:12 mark to give the Trojans their first lead of the game, 36-34.
“She’s a great player,” Sheehan coach Mike Busillo said of Lipka. “We’ve done as good a job on her as we could in her four years, but she proved why she is a such a great player tonight. She made a lot of shots and a lot of plays. It took everything for us to win this game.”
Lipka had two 3’s and two layups in the LH surge.
The teams exchanged the lead a few times until Bruneau took over. She scored LH’s last seven points of the third quarter, including a trey that gave the Trojans a 40-39 advantage.
That began an 8-0 streak for LH that was capped by a Lynch layup. It gave the Trojans their biggest lead of the game, 45-39, with 7:00 to go in the fourth quarter. The deuce was set up by Capello.
Later in the quarter, Robles converted an old-fashioned, 3-point play to tie the game 50-50 with 2:29. Robles then collected a steal that resulted in a Hunt layup as the Titans went up 52-50 with 2:01 left.
After a Lyman Hall timeout, Hunt scored off a turnover and the Titans were up 54-50 with 1:52 left.
Kailey Lipka was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 35.2 seconds to go She hit two of the three shots to make the score 55-53.
The Trojans were forced to foul and Sheehan’s Velez split a pair from the line with 11.9 seconds to go. Lyman Hall had the ball with eight seconds left, down three, when Larkin came up with the block.
“I saw Mik come off the screen and pop out of the arc,” Sheehan coach Mike Busillo said. “I thought she was going to knock this shot down, but Maddi rotated back and made the block. She’s a great athlete and we were able to make one more play than they did.”
Larkin then hit the final two free throws to cap the scoring.
“That was a rivalry game and we had to grind that one out,” Robles said. “We had a rough first half with turnovers and with foul trouble. We made it through that rough patch.”
Sheehan completed the regular-season sweep with Monday’s victory. The rivalry, however, may not be over for the season. There is a chance the rivals could meet in the opening round of the SCC Tournament on Thursday.