WALLINGFORD — Both the Sheehan and Lyman Hall girls basketball teams entered Monday night’s rivalry game without a loss.
The difference between the two? Sheehan won four games, while Lyman Hall was playing its first of the season.
The Trojans were quarantined for two weeks due to a positive COVID-19 test. Thus, their first game was up and down Monday as they fell to the host Titans, 45-35.
“I was a little worried that we had to start the game well,” Lyman Hall head coach Tom Lipka said.
Despite the two-week quarantine period, the Trojans started the game in control. Through the first three minutes, they led the Titans 5-2 and at the four-minute mask break were up 7-4.
That was it for the Trojans’ lead, though. The Titans (5-0) caught their breath and significantly swung the momentum in their favor, erasing that initial 5-2 deficit with a 14-2 run to close out the quarter.
Entering the second quarter with a 16-7 advantage, Sheehan didn’t let off the gas, setting up in a full-court press. Lyman Hall matched the full-court defense with its own version.
Though both teams eventually opted out of the press, the second quarter proved to be a defensive bout, as the two rivals combined for just 15 points.
The Titans took a 24-14 lead into halftime.
“After that four-minute timeout, after that four-minute break, I thought our defensive energy was a lot better,” Sheehan head coach Mike Busillo said. “They didn’t score after the break.”
The defensive tenor remained intact through the opening minutes of the second half, this time with Lyman Hall limiting Sheehan to four points prior to the four-minute mask break and closing the gap to 28-23.
Once again, though, the Titans used the mask break wisely. They came out of it scoring five unanswered points to end the quarter up 33-25.
“This is a rivalry, so a lot of times they sit there and look at the clock, and they want the game to end without playing it out,” Busillo said. “So we’re looking around and, ‘OK, it’s a 10-point game and there’s five minutes left,’ and they’re trying to run the clock out. But we just can’t do that. We’ve got to play.”
The eight-point lead quickly became a double-digit advantage for the Titans as they pulled ahead 40-29 roughly two minutes into the fourth quarter. There, senior guard Caitlin Velez punctuated the Titans’ performance with a 3-pointer to put the home up 43-29 with 5:20 remaining.
Both teams didn’t score another point until Lyman Hall knocked down a 2-point jumper with 2:10 remaining.
Lyman Hall came with full-court pressure throughout the fourth quarter, but couldn’t cut the deficit to single digits.
Sheehan senior Caitlyn Hunt led the way with 10 points and consistent pressure on the glass. Velez poured in nine points and junior guard Molly Smolenski tallied eight.
Natalie Panagrosso was top scorer for LH with 10 points. Brianna Mik scored nine points and Grace Gagliardi was good for eight.
Both teams continue their regular season campaigns at home on Wednesday. Sheehan takes on East Haven 6 p.m., while Lyman Hall plays Guilford at 5. It will be Senior Night for the Trojans.
“I told the girls that we played well for most of the game,” Lipka said. “But when we play a great team, you’ve got to elevate yourself.”