WALLINGFORD — Hayleigh Lagase, a four-year starter for the Sheehan girls basketball team, is a ball of energy on the court.
She’s listed as a shooting guard, but that’s just something on a piece of paper. Lagase has played all over the floor for Sheehan coach Mike Busillo.
Coaches at the next level have taken notice of Lagase’s talents. Next year, she’ll be playing at Georgian Court University, a Division II program in Lakewood, N.J.
“I’m extremely happy for her. She’s worked really hard for this and all of that hard work has paid off for her,” Busillo said.
“She’s got a lot of physical gifts. She’s 5-foot-10 and can guard all five positions on the floor,” the Sheehan coach added. “The way basketball is played now, being interchangeable is a big asset at the college level. She has the ability to shoot from the outside and can drive to the basket. That should translate well at the next level.”
Lagase became a starter early in her freshman campaign at Sheehan. She plays with strength and quickness. She also rebounds well from her guard position. She was a key piece to Sheehan’s run to the 2019 Class M state final.
“She’s had a really good career for us,” Busillo said. “She’s played with some prolific scorers in Liv Robles and Caitlyn Hunt. We have a point guard who has the ball in her hands a lot. Hayleigh has fulfilled her role on the team and has done everything we asked her to do. She has the ability to score and has the licence to shoot whenever she wants in our offense.
“We’ve never asked her to be our primary scorer and she has that ability. She has nights in her career where she’s carried us offensively.”
Lagase’s initial sports love was soccer, but she followed big sister Kaitlin’s footsteps into basketball. Kaiitlin is now in her senior year at Sacred Heart University and plays rugby at the school.
The younger daughter of Dave and Kelly Lagase wanted to study Elementary Education in the New Jersey area and Georgian Court checked all of the boxes for her.
“It’s special to me,” Lagase said. “I always wanted to play college basketball and I found the right school for me.”
Lagase said she was impressed with the credentials of her new college coach Jasmina Perazic, who had success in college at the University of Maryland, in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics for her native Yugoslavia and then in the WNBA before turning to coaching. Perazic was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
“I’m going to an amazing school with an amazing coach who will only help me improve as a player,” Lagase said.
Lagase started playing at age 6. She played AAU with the Norwalk-based CBC team.
“I feel I’m competitive and bring high energy to the team,” Lagase said. “I want to make myself and my teammates better. I’m always hyping everyone up. I just want to keep getting better every single day. As a team, our goal is to win SCC’s. We work well together. We are good friends on and off the court.”