A well-executed game plan and tough defensive effort – which were really one in the same – led the No. 16 Shelton High School girls basketball team to a 37-28 win over visiting and 17th seeded New Britain Golden Hurricanes in the first round of the Class LL state playoffs on Saturday.
The Gaelettes, when they scouted New Britain during a game against Branford, saw sharp-shooting Gabriella Roy sink six 3-pointers. The Gaelettes sought to deny, as best they could, New Britain’s outside shooting game and succeeded, limiting Roy to two points in the contest.
Shelton used a zone defense except when Roy had the ball, as the Gaelettes implemented man coverage on Roy, Gaelettes coach Joseph Cavallaro noted. The tight guarding effort was led by Erin Adler, with significant contributions from Colleen Flood, Maggie Howard and Kayla Resto.
Casey O’Connor led Shelton with a dozen points, Sarah Skoronski had nine, Resto poured in eight and Flood and Erin Adler each tacked on four.
Shelton led 8-5 after one quarter of play, 16-12 at the half and 28-20 through three quarters. The Gaelettes went up nine points, 24-15, when Flood finished a fast break, with 3:40 to go in the third.
After struggling to get inside for good looks at the hoop in the opening half, Shelton turned things around after the break, Cavallaro said.
“We played solid defense the whole game. I think we attacked the basket better in the third quarter,” the coach said.
New Britain had a 5-0 run to pull to within four, but Shelton’s O’Connor and Skoronski both hit a pair of foul shots late in the third period to extend the lead.
O’Connor’s short-range jumper made it a 10-point game, 30-20 early in the fourth. O’Connor answered a New Britain basket, then Resto cashed in off a nice feed from Adler to make it a 12-point differential at 34-22 with 4:20 to play. The Gaelettes kept some distance between the teams the rest of the night to close out the win.
“Putting our heads together and working hard to get the win,” lifted Shelton to victory, said Flood, a captain.
“We beat a team that won 13 games in a tough league,” Cavallaro said of the Golden Hurricanes, who compete in the Central Connecticut Conference.
For Shelton’s seniors, this was one last hurrah on the home floor.
“I’m happy for them,” said Cavallaro, noting that this Gaelettes lineup, which posted a 13-7 regular season mark to equal New Britain’s final tally, won more games than it did the previous couple of years combined.
“It’s been a long journey but we finally made it to states and won a game,” senior captain Nicole Roberts said. “It’s been our dream since freshman year.”
The Gaelettes advanced to face top-seeded Mercy in the second round on Thursday.
“We’ll play hard. We’ve played hard all year long,” Cavallaro said.