March 14, 2014 12:59AM
By Ken Lipshez
FARMINGTON — Taylor Mierzejewski wasn’t going to cry.
The senior guard was pretty sure she would on the bus ride home, but even in the wake of Lyman Hall’s 52-48 loss to Farmington in the Class L quarterfinals Thursday night, she knew in her heart what the Trojans had accomplished since her winless sophomore season was to be celebrated.
Seventh-seeded Lyman Hall finishes at 19-5, while No. 2 Farmington (21-3) advances to the semifinals to play Weaver-Hartford.
“I’m really sad,” Miezejewski said after sinking six 3-pointers and scoring a team-high 22 points. “I didn’t want it to end here, but we got farther than we ever have, so it’s good ... I guess.”
Frustration came in many faces that will haunt the Trojans as they assess the game.
Farmington’s feisty defense forced 23 turnovers. The Indians were more aggressive, particularly on the offensive boards, where they continuously reaped second- and third-chance points. Lyman Hall had no answers for junior center Sophie Borg (27 points, 10 rebounds).
“They were very athletic, more athletic than what I saw on the video, but both teams played hard and I’m sorry to see one team has to lose,” Lyman Hall coach Tom Lipka said. “The kids put a great effort in. They fell just short.
“Borg gave us trouble. A couple of times we thought we had her locked in and she’d make a layup,” Lipka added. “She’s a tough kid to defend. She’s very good going to the basket.”
Even after Farmington forged a 51-40 lead with 2:25 left, opportunity cracked open the door, but the Trojans were unable to walk through.
Mierzejewski tossed in successive threes to cut the deficit to a manageable 51-46 with 1:31 to go. The Trojans had to foul, and while the Indians cooperated by missing eight of nine, they twice pulled down offensive rebounds and forced a quick turnover.
When Lyman Hall did get the ball across the midcourt stripe, Farmington’s halfcourt defense appeared to be six or seven strong instead of five.
“Taylor shot the ball well (7-for-12 from the floor), but the other kids didn’t get the looks,” Lipka said. We had trouble attacking the basket. They were very good defensively.”
Borg was virtually unstoppable. Defensively, point guard Cheray Saunders (4 steals) joined tenacious freshman Mary Schoenherr in patrolling the perimeter. But when Farmington coach Russ Crist discussed the high points, he singled out senior forward Bridget Kelly.
“I thought the difference was Bridget Kelly on [Nicole Mierzejewski],” he said, “I thought she was unbelievable.”
Nicole Mierzejewski made only two field goals and was held to five points, more than six below her average.
“Our goal was for them to earn every touch and every look at the basket, and I thought we did an unbelievable job,” said Crist, a Meriden resident and grandson of city sports legend Ben Zajac. “I thought it started with the fact that [Nicole Mierzejewski] wasn’t able to get anything going.”
Treys by Taylor Mierzejewski and Krista Petersen enabled Lyman Hall to stay within a point after the first quarter.
Farmington gained some separation early in the second quarter with a 7-0 run and led 21-15 after Borg scored on a pass into the post by Saunders midway through.
But Taylor Mierzejewski dropped in a pair of threes late in the period and Farmington’s lead at halftime was 25-22. The Trojans had turned it over 12 times in the half, but made 8 of their 14 shots. The Indians had taken 31, but converted only 11.
Petersen keyed a defensive surge early in the third quarter and Farmington went nearly three minutes without scoring. Naomi Rascati (11 points) picked it up offensively and splashed a pair of threes to give Lyman Hall a 34-31 lead with 1:48 to go in the quarter.
It lasted less than a half-minute. Saunders stroked a trey to spark a 7-0 surge that allowed Farmington to gain a 38-34 advantage at the end of three.
“I think we were capable of beating this team,” Taylor Mierzejewski said. “They were a great team, obviously, but I think we were evenly matched. If we came out and played like we normally do, we could have pulled it off, but people were playing individually and I think that’s what really hurt us.”
Farmington shot 20-for-56 from the field (35.8 percent). The Trojans made 17 of 35, a solid 48.5 percent, but their shooting was neutralized by the giveaways.
Nicole Mierzejewski pounded the boards for 13 rebounds, but got little help.
“We had so many chances and we let it go,” her twin sister lamented.
CIac Class l quarterfinal
No. 2 farmington 52,
No. 7 lyman HALL 48
lyman hall (48)
Naomi Rascati 4 1-2 11, Taylor Mierzejewski 7 2-3 22, Emma Sears 0 0-0 0, Hailey Hergott 0 0-0 0, Nicole Mierzejewski 2 1-2 5, Sam Becker 0 1-2 1, Krista Petersen 2 0-0 5, Kim Petit 2 0-2 4. Totals: 17 5-11 48.
Mary Schoenherr 3 0-2 6, Sophie Borg 9 7-9 26, Cheray Saunders 5 1-4 13, Sarah Lipinski 0 0-0 0, Brittany Galske 1 1-4 3, Bridget Kelly 2 0-0 4. Totals: 20 9-19 52.
Lyman Hall 10 12 12 14 — 48
Farmington 11 14 13 14 — 52
3-Point Goals—Lyman Hall 9 (T. Mierzejewski 6, Rascati 2, Petersen); Farmington 3 (Saunders 2, Borg). Team Records—Lyman Hall 19-5; Farmington 21-3.