WALLINGFORD — Canton had the tallest girl on the court, but the Wresien twins and their scrappy Sheehan teammates more than made up for the Titans’ lack of size Wednesday night.
Undersized, but far from overmatched, Sheehan improved to 13-3 on the season with a 53-38 non-conference girls basketball win over Canton.
Another Sheehan freshman, Susie Hotaling, led the Titans with 13 points. Her classmates, freshmen Megan and Jenna Wresien, each scored 12.
Jenna Wresien netted nine points in a decisive second quarter when the Titans went on a 10-0 run to open up a double-digit lead. Sheehan led 29-19 at halftime, and never led by less than 10 points the rest of the way.
Hotaling, meanwhile, scored nine points in the second half to keep the Warriors at bay.
The non-conference victory keeps the Titans among the teams to beat in the Class MM state playoffs. Sheehan came into Wednesday night’s contest ranked No. 4 in Class MM.
Sheehan’s three losses this season have come to SCC teams. The Titans have lost to No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Hamden (16-0), West Haven (12-4) and Foran (13-3).
“It’s an important game because of our state seeding,” Sheehan head coach Mike Busillo. “We want to try to stay as high as possible. Friday (at Guilford) is a different animal when we get back into our league play.”
Canton (8-9), out of the NCCC, was led by the 6-foot-2 Sophia Mates. The senior not only towered over the other nine players on the court, but led all scorers with 15 points.
Whenever Mates got the ball, one could hear Busillo yelling from the sidelines “high hands” or “stand strong” to his Titans.
Sheehan followed its game plan, doubling and even triple-teaming Mates when she touched the ball.
“It was definitely a struggle, but we came into the game with a plan and knowing what we wanted to do defending her,” said Jenna Wresien, who hit a pair of 3’s herself.
“We struggled a little bit, but we just pushed through,” Wresien added. “When she got the ball, we all just had to drop.”
“We were trying to make thing as hard as possible for her,” Busillo said of defending Mates. “We were doubling, which is something we normally don’t do. I thought for most part we did a decent job.
“We teach high hands, palms to the ceiling, all the time,” Busillo added. “We were in good position, but we were trying to use our arms to block shots of a girl who is three or four inches taller than everyone on our team.”
Leading 16-11, the Titans opened up a 26-11 lead with 2:27 left in the first half.
Megan Wresien started the run with the first of her two 3-pointers in the second quarter. Her sister then canned two free throws off her own steal when she was fouled on a fast break.
Ella Dorsey followed with one of the Titans’ six 3-pointers in the game. Jenna Wresien then capped off the run with a coast-to-coast layup.
“To get ahead, we usually try to have a lot of energy on the court,” Jenna Wresien said. “When we score a lot, it really helps us play good defense.”
With Mates patrolling the paint in a 2-3 Canton zone, the Warriors dared Sheehan to shoot from outside. And while the Titans came out cold, their second-chance points and extra passes kept them in front.
“We kind of kept them at arm’s length,” Busillo said. “We couldn’t really put them away. We had a hard time extending the lead, because every time we’d get some momentum, Mates would make a play.”
The Warriors took advantage of Sheehan’s cold shooting to stay within striking distance throughout the first half. Canton trailed 13-6 after one quarter and was within 16-11 before the Titans scored 10 straight points to take control
Megan Wresien started the second quarter with a three-point play and then hit a pair of 3’s in the frame, including one with seven seconds left in the half to put the Titans up 29-19 at the break.
The third quarter ended with Jenna Wresien scoring five straight points to give the Titans a 44-31 lead heading to the final eight minutes.
“Brian is smart,” Busillo said of Canton head coach, good friend and Wallingford native Brian Medeiros. “He dared us to shoot. But Susie made a big 3 there in the second half and that stretched the floor for us a little bit.”
“I thought if we made a few shots, we’d be OK,” Busillo added.