WALLINGFORD — On the night that Lyman Hall girls basketball celebrated its two seniors, Julia Capello and Haley Bruneau, it was another senior, Cheshire’s Emma Watkinson, who would play spoiler on Wednesday and pace the Rams to a 37-34 upset win on the road.
Watkinson’s spirited play defensively, combined with nine of her team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter, had a Cheshire team that hadn’t won since Jan. 15 feeling good for at least another night.
“I know on my Senior Night I want to get a win,” said Watkinson. “Our bench was insane, we played so well tonight. These girls, I’ve been playing with since 4th grade, so to come together tonight to get this felt great.”
It was a different story for the Trojans, whose inability to hit consistently from 3-point range, coupled with some mental mistakes, all but sealed the loss.
“We are an outside shooting team, and when we struggle like we did tonight it’s tough for us to win,” said LH coach Tom Lipka. “We had chances in the fourth, but we made some mental errors. We gave up what could have been game tying three-point opportunity for a contested two-pointer and had too many turnovers and fouls late.”
Both teams played a sloppy, but scrappy first half, highlighted by more turnovers than baskets. The Trojans struggled from beyond the arc, hitting three of their seven 3-point attempts.
Bruneau was among those unable to find her shot early, connecting on only one of three attempts from deep. Capello, too, was able to connect on only one of her three 3-point attempts.
A bright spot in the first half for the Trojans was the play of underclassman Brianna Mik, who scored 11 of her game high 16 points before the break.
Despite their struggles, the Trojans took a 16-12 lead into the locker room.
Cheshire, however, would refuse to quit. The Rams tied the game at the six-minute mark in the third quarter and headed into the fourth quarter trailing by only five.
That’s when Watkinson took over. She connected on consecutive baskets early in the fourth to tie the game at 28-all. She also played solid defense, collecting two key blocks late in the game to help preserve the win.
Still, Lyman Hall had its chances to tie the game. After two missed Cheshire free throws, the Trojans had the ball with 11 seconds left trailing 37-34. A missed three by Natalie Panagrosso would end it.
Regardless of the loss, Lipka still had praise for his two seniors.
“Haley’s been sensational for us since her sophomore year,” said Lipka. “And Julia, it was great to see her out there tonight to enjoy her Senior Night after missing three games. Just two great kids.”
Unfortunately, though, for both seniors and the Trojans, this may have been their last home game.
“I told the girls that we have to go out and get the win Friday and see where everything shakes out for the tournament.” said Lipka.
Lyman Hall finishes the year at Lauralton Hall on Friday night. Cheshire has two home games left, finishing against Branford on Friday and North Haven on Monday.