WALLINGFORD — Sheehan seniors have won a lot of games in their four years in the girl basketball program and the veterans were key in a 45-31 Senior Night victory over North Haven on Tuesday night.
The Titans got off to a fast start and never trailed in a defensive-minded win that improved the team to 3-0.
Western New England-bound senior Caitlyn Hunt paced the way for Sheehan with 15 points. Fellow seniors Hayleigh Lagase (8 points, 11 rebounds), Caitlyn Velez (7 points) and Dempsey Lajoie (7 points) were also on their game for the Titans.
“This was a really good win on Senior Night because we know we can get shut down at any second,” Hunt said. “If this was our last game, it was good to go out like this because we worked our hardest.”
Sharp-shooting junior Molly Smolenski (6 points) had two well-timed 3-pointers for Sheehan in the win.
Sheehan held a 24-13 at the half behind a stifling zone defense. The hosts held North Haven to 4-for-21 from the field in the opening 16 minutes. The Indians shot just 1-for-10 in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Sheehan has six different scorers in the first half. Lajoie was the offensive star in the first quarter with the first two buckets of the frame and then a 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave the Titans a 11-7 advantage after one quarter.
Sheehan also showed it could handle North Haven’s full-court pressure.
“We spent some time on it,” Sheehan coach Mike Busillo said. “They do a great job with their pressure and it wasn’t easy. It felt a lot closer than a 14-point win. It was a much tighter basketball game.”
North Haven sophomore Julia Ball hit her second of three first-half 3-pointers to open the scoring the second quarter to cut the gap to 11-10.
After that, Sheehan ripped off a 8-0 run. Hunt grabbed a rebound over her front-court counterpart on a free throw and put it right back.
Then the Titans got hot from the perimeter. Smolenski drilled a 3-ball from the corner, followed by one from Lagase.
Sophomore Maya Wresien hit a shot a foot inside the arc and Caitlyn Velez capped the Titan scoring in the second quarter with a trey from the top of the key. The senior extended her arms at midcourt after the make with 17 seconds left on the clock.
The defensive battle continued in the third quarter. Neither team lit it up from the field. North Haven made three buckets, Sheehan made two and the Titans maintained a 32-22 advantage. The highlight for Sheehan was a steal and layup by Velez late in the quarter.
North Haven made a run early in the fourth quarter. A jumper by Carly Fresher and a 3-ball by Olivia Johnson on back-to-back possessions trimmed the Sheehan lead to 34-27 with 5:47 left. Smolenski answered with a 3-pointer to put Sheehan back up by double digits.
Ball (10 points) made a layup with 4:57 left as NH closed within eight, but the Titans ended the game with a 8-2 run that included five points from Hunt and a trey from Lagase.
Sheehan seniors honored before the game were Jocelyn Petrillo, Velez, Hunt, Lajoie, Mia Mills and Lagase.
“I’m happy for the seniors,” Busillo said. “They mean a lot to me and have done a great job in the last four years. They’ve had a lot of success and a lot of help over the years. But they’ve had a lot of success. I feel bad I couldn’t start all of the seniors tonight, but I will make it up on the next home game.”
On the other side of town, Lyman Hall began practicing on Sunday after being in COVID-19 quarantine for two weeks. The Trojans will open up their season on Monday at Sheehan.
“Lyman Hall getting shutdown to start the season hit close to home and we feel we have to play every game like our last game,” Hunt said.
Prior to hosting Lyman Hall, the Titans will look to try to stay perfect on Friday when they travel to Milford to face Jonathan Law.