GIRLS BASKETBALL: Sheehan tops Mercy, runs table to SCC Housy crown

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Sheehan tops Mercy, runs table to SCC Housy crown

WALLINGFORD — The Sheehan girls basketball team capped off its Senior Night and regular season with a division-clinching victory against Mercy on Friday evening.

Leading by five points at halftime, Sheehan broke away in the second half to win 48-29.

The victory capped an 8-0 run to the SCC Housatonic title for the Titans and gave them a final regular-season mark of 17-3.

Sheehan junior forward Caitlyn Hunt led all scorers with 22 points. Junior point guard Caitlyn Velez added 10.

Hayleigh Lagase scored seven points, Maddi Larkin had six and Caroline Dighello added three to round out the scoring for Sheehan.

Sophie Hedge, Lilly Hedge and Lily Sokolowski scored six points apiece for Mercy, which closed at 9-11 overall and 6-2 in the Housy.

The Tigers could have earned a share of the division title with an upset. That didn’t happen, and Sheehan coach Mike Busillo credited his team for playing an unselfish brand of basketball offensively.

He also emphasized Hunt’s effectiveness in the paint.

“Having Caitlyn Hunt helps,” Busillo said. “And Velez was terrific tonight, a true floor general. She had an open layup and passed it to Hunt so she could have the layup. That’s just unselfish basketball. Hunt was terrific today; she’s been like that all year.”

Sheehan led by two at the end of the first quarter, 11-9. Lagase made a 3-pointer with less than 20 seconds left to put Sheehan ahead 11-7, but Mercy countered with a buzzer-beating layup off an inbounds pass to end the quarter.

Sheehan extended its lead to five in the second quarter and went into halftime up23-18. Mercy did hit a three just after the game clock expired, but it was waved off by the officials.

Sheehan played with energy and aggressiveness in the second quarter. Lagase fought for jump balls on back-to-back possessions to energize the Titans. Sheehan also made good use of its size advantage, with Hunt scoring eight points in the quarter.

Sheehan tightened its defense in the third quarter, only allowing four points, and led 35-22 going into the final quarter.

Hunt, Larkin and Velez each scored four points in the third for Sheehan. Hunt added six more points in the fourth quarter as the Titans extended their lead and led comfortably down the stretch.

Busillo credited his players for being versatile as the Titans employed different looks on defense.

“It was a good defensive effort,” he said. “I thought we had a good plan coming in. We started playing some man, then went to zone, and zone-trap a little bit. Our zone defense really did the job for us tonight.”

Hunt said improved communication played a major role in Sheehan’s stingy second-half defense. It was also sweet, she said, to clinch the Housatonic Division on Senior Night.

“It’s really good for the seniors because they’ve been working really hard all season to get to where we are, and it’s nice that it happened to be on the night where we’re celebrating them,” she said.

Maintaining focus amid the celebration of Senior Night can be a difficult task at times, but the Titans were locked in and remained focused throughout.

“Before the game, we came together and emphasized the need to focus,” Hunt said. “Senior Night is after the game, and right now we need to focus on getting the division title and winning.”

Next up for the Titans is the SCC Tournament. They’ll be at home for the first round ext Thursday. Sheehan is also hosting all four quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 22.