WALLINGFORD — East Haven carved out a two-point lead on Lyman Hall after one quarter and then steadily pulled away to a 48-27 girls basketball victory in the second game of the SCC Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at Sheehan.
The fourth-seeded Yellowjackets improved to 15-7 and advanced to their third straight SCC semifinals. No. 12 Lyman Hall, which had upset No. 5 Wilbur Cross in the first round, fell to 12-10 and will look to regroup for the Class L state tournament.
Junior forward Taylor Salato had a game-high 20 points for the Yellowjackets and senior guard Alexis Pendziwater added 13.
Julia Capello led Lyman Hall with 10 points and fellow senior captain Hailey Bruneau, plagued by foul trouble, added five. Juniors Brianna Mik and Macenzie Regan added four apiece.
For one quarter, the teams traded leads. East Haven junior guard Erin Curran drained a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game and Bruneau got Lyman Hall on the board a few minutes later as she split a pair of free throws.
Capello gave LH a 4-3 lead at the halfway point of the first quarter with a 3-pointer. Junior forward Angelina Munoz answered with two trips to the foul line, hitting 3 of 4 shots to put East Haven back on top 6-4.
With 2:40 left, a trey by LH junior guard Grace Gagliardi had the Trojans in front 7-6. However, Curran ended the quarter the same way that she started it, with a 3-pointer from the right wing to give East Haven a 9-7 lead.
East Haven found a bit of a rhythm in the second quarter and outscored Lyman Hall 11-6 to take a 20-13 lead going into halftime.
Pendziwater drained two 3’s in this quarter, while Bruneau scored four of Lyman Hall’s six points on dribble-drive layups. Mik scored the other two points for LH on a pair of free throws.
East Haven’s efficiency continued in the third quarter. The Yellowjackets extended their lead to 34-23 behind eight third-quarter points from Salato.
East Haven coach Anthony Russell said game circumstances led his team to make a focused effort on getting Salato the ball.
“Once Bruneau got into foul trouble and we saw that she was still guarding Salato, we thought if we could isolate Taylor on the block it would put her in a good position to score,” Russell said.
Bruneau, one of Lyman Hall’s top players at both ends of the court, was in foul trouble most of the game. She picked up her third personal midway through the second quarter.
“I think the biggest part of the game was when Bruneau picked up her third,” Russell said. “She was really the catalyst of making things happen for them.”
Lyman Hall’s Capello seemed to agree, saying, “I think the game would have went really different if we didn’t foul as much, but I think we played well as a team.”
The fourth quarter featured a lot of deliberate fouls, as Lyman Hall attempted to claw its way back. It didn’t work. East Haven scored 14 points in the quarter, while holding Lyman Hall to four.
Russell noted this was the second game in a row in which his defense held the opponent to under 30 points. He also said the biggest difference between the first half and second half was his team attacking the rim and finishing.
“I think in the first half we weren’t going up strong and were missing a lot of shots around the basket, but in the second half we started converting both inside and outside.”
East Haven will meet top-seeded Daniel Hand in Monday’s semifinals at Jonathan Law. Hand (18-3) pinned a 58-42 defeat on No. 8 North Haven in Saturday’s first quarterfinal at Sheehan.
As far as what Lyman Hall needs to improve upon moving into the state tournament, coach Tom Lipka pointed to building confidence and avoiding foul trouble.
“We just have to stay out of foul trouble, a little more confidence shooting from the outside,” Lipka said.
Capello added that her team will look to work on their defense moving into states.
Lyman Hall lines up as the No. 18 seed in Class L, which would send the Trojans over the town line to face North Haven in the first round on March 3.