Battling in its fifth consecutive nail-biting contest, Shelton High’s girls basketball team fought to the finish but fell 58-53 to visiting Career Magnet on Monday night.
Shelton fell to 4-3 and Career improved to 7-1.
The Gaelettes led 27-26 at halftime, overcame a five-point deficit in the third quarter to get the game tied at 41 heading into the fourth, and erased a four-point margin in the final period, but could not get over the hump.
In each of Shelton’s last five contests, the margin of victory has been six points or less.
“It’s the way it should be,” said Shelton coach Joe Cavallaro, adding that teams don’t benefit from blowing out the opposition. “We have a very tough schedule. There’s not a single night where we have an easy game.”
Casey O’Connor led the Gaelettes with 19 points, Sarah Skoronski had 12, Kayla Resto scored nine and Emmeline Bronson dropped in eight.
Career had a rare five-point trip down the floor late in the third quarter to turn a 36-apiece deadlock into a 41-36 advantage.
Kayla Franklin hit a 3-pointer and a foul off the ball gave Career an inbound play following the hoop. Career cashed in with two more points with 1:48 to go. It seemed like a potential back-breaking play given how close the score had been.
“We could have quit right there. We came right back and got even a couple of times,” Cavallaro said.
Skoronski hit a 3-pointer and, after a Shelton stop on the defensive end, O’Connor drained an outside jumper to even the score.
In the fourth, Shelton battled back to tie the score four times before Career finished on a 7-2 run.
Down 45-41, the Gaelettes knotted the score behind an O’Connor shot off an offensive rebound and a Resto bucket down low off a nice assist from O’Connor.
Career took a trio of two-point leads only to see Shelton answer. The last mini comeback came when Shelton’s Maggie Howard was fouled attempting a 3-point shot and sank two of her free throws to make it a 51-51 game with 2:32 left.
Career reclaimed the lead and added to it behind a timely defensive-end steal and some sharp free-throw shooting. In the game, the visitors sank 19-of-26 foul shots.
Cavallaro noted that the Gaellettes are overmatched in terms of height and have to do better to get into position for rebounds to compensate.
“We didn’t get the stops at the end. We didn’t get the defensive rebounds we needed at the end,” said Cavallaro, adding that he was pleased with his team’s effort throughout the contest.