WALLINGFORD — The Sheehan girls basketball team played its most complete game since its run to Mohegan Sun last March in a 65-37 SCC crossover win over Amity at home on Wednesday night.
The Titans showcased their dominant defense in the first half and displayed a balanced and dynamic offense in a 33-point third quarter.
Sheehan (7-2) was paced by its dynamic front-court duo of Maddi Larkin and Caitlyn Hunt against an Amity team (5-4) that couldn’t match up to Sheehan’s size.
Larkin poured in a team-high 19 points. Hunt added 18.
Hayleigh Lagase registered 13 for the Titans, who also got nine points from Caitlyn Velez.
“We needed this one,” Larkin said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit and this is one we really needed. We played really well as a team — together. We made a few mistakes, but we played a really good game.”
Sheehan shooting guard Caroline Dighello had three points on the night, but her main task was guarding Amity’s leading scorer, Jillian Martin. The Amity senior had 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. She now has 999 points for her career.
Sheehan led 23-11 at the half behind a dominating defensive effort. The SCC squads were tied 7-7 after the first quarter before Sheehan opened the second quarter with six straight points that included an old-fashioned 3-point play by Larkin and a conventional trey by Velez.
‘Velez has been playing like that all year,” Sheehan coach Mike Busillo said. “She controls everything. She never leaves the floor. She’s really developing into a complete point guard. She controls tempo and does a really good job. I have kids with experience and that certainly helps.”
Hunt capped a big first half with eight points and five rebounds by the break. She had three buckets in the paint in the final four minutes of the second quarter.
Dighello drained a trey in the big second quarter in which the Titans outscored Amity 16-4.
Martin, a point guard, provided Amity’s only two buckets in the second quarter against Sheehan’s stingy man-to-man defense. The Titans held Amity to 4-for-23 from the field in the opening half.
As much as the first half was about defense, the Sheehan offense was unstoppable in the third quarter. Hunt and Larkin continued to feast in the post against a smaller Spartan squad. The Titans shot 10-for-15 as a team in the quarter as Velez piled up the assists.
“My teammates are working hard and I have to reward them; I’ve got to hit them with passes,” Velez said. “We haven’t been connecting in our past few games, but today we really connected. We played good defense. Defense was what helped us win this game today.”
The junior point guard capped the dominant quarter by banking in a trey at the buzzer to put Sheehan up 39-24.
“We said at the half that we had to come out strong in the third quarter,” Larkin said. “That’s probably the best game we’ve had yet. We’ve struggled to put (a complete game) together and that was pretty close to it.”
Scoring in the post has been the Sheehan trademark in recent years and Hunt and Larkin have kept that legacy going this season. Larkin had seven points in the third quarter and Hunt added eight.
“We got warm,” Busillo said. “Cait’s has been such a reliable scorer for us and when we get that second scorer, we’re tough. Cait kept it moving in the second quarter and she still scored eight points. Her teammates scored and got her the ball and that’s good to see. Maddi played a great game. Hayleigh Lagase was also good tonight.”
Busillo said the Titans built off their best practice of the season on Tuesday.
Meghan Smith added 10 points for the Spartans. Amity has now lost four of five contests and will next face Hillhouse at home on Friday.
Hunt said it was important for the Titans to play well after a tight 51-50 defeat at Hillhouse on Friday night.
“As a team, we really needed it coming from Hillhouse,” Hunt said. “We had a rough start and we lost that one. We needed this to get our motivation back.”
Sheehan now has a pair of Top-10 teams coming up on the schedule. The Titans travel to Daniel Hand on Friday and host Newington on Monday.
“This team reminded me of the team I coached in March,” Busillo said. “We showed a lot of care on defense in the first half and that helped us with our energy on the offensive end. We got our feet moving offensively and did a great job in on offensive in the third quarter.”