In what has become an all-too-familiar script for the Shelton High girls basketball team this season, the Gaelettes fell behind by double-digits at Cheshire Friday night before fighting back to make a game of it.
Unfortunately for the locals, Shelton couldn’t quite get over the hump and dropped a 54-44 decision to the Rams (8-7, 4-2).
“We just can’t do that,” said Shelton Coach Mary Piccirillo of the big hole her Gaelettes dug themselves. “We have to play all four quarters.”
Shelton is now 5-9 overall, and 1-5 in the Housatonic Division of the Southern Connecticut Conference.
The Gaelettes need to win three of their final six regular season games to qualify for both the SCC and Class LL tournaments.
Down 39-26 with 2:35 left in the third quarter, the Gaelettes got untracked and made a furious run at Cheshire.
Freshman forward Nicole Roberts got things started by finishing off a nice pass from senior Megan Burke.
Burke then nailed a 3-pointer to end the quarter, and cut the Cheshire lead to single-digits, 39-31.
Jessica Wilm and Alyssa Eannotti each made a pair of free throws to open the fourth quarter, and the Gaelettes had scored nine straight points to cut the Ram lead to four points, 39-35, with seven minutes left.
Enter Cheshire reserve guard Bry McIntosh. With the Rams looking flustered on offense, McIntosh stopped the Shelton run with an off-balance shot. McIntosh then answered a Wilm foul-line jumper with another bucket.
Burke buried her second trey of the night to cut the Cheshire lead to three points, 43-40, midway through the final period. It was the closest Shelton had been to Cheshire since the first quarter.
Shelton had three possessions with a chance to either cut further into the Ram advantage, or tie the score, but was unable to convert on any of them.
McIntosh then scored her third straight bucket for Cheshire, pushing the Ram lead to five points, 45-40, with 2:34 remaining in the game. McIntosh finished the night with a career-high 13 points.
Eannotti hit the first of two free-throw attempts to make it 45-41, but Cheshire answered with free throw of its own, then converted a conventional three-point play with 1:51 remaining.
Eannotti made it a two possession game, 49-43, with 1:22 left, but the Rams made 6-of-10 free throws over the final 1:14 to post the 10-point win.
For Shelton, Eannotti led the way with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Burke contributed 12 points, four assists and four steals.
More consistency is the key for Shelton as it heads into the home stretch of the season.
Eannotti and Burke played very well in the second half, scoring 18 of Shelton’s 24 second-half points.
“Then we also need the other people to pitch in,” said Piccirillo.
In the first half, it was almost the opposite, with Eannotti and Burke scoring a combined five points, and Shelton being held to just 17 points as a team.
Nicole Wells (four points), Nicole Beard (four points) and Brooke McCone (three points) scored all of their points on the night in the first half.
One of the issues Shelton faces, according to Piccirillo, is that all five players on the court have to play well together throughout the game, rather than in spurts.
How the Gaelettes fare this week will go a long way in determining whether they are able to qualify for the post-season or not. Winning at least two of this week’s three scheduled games is the goal.
Shelton traveled to New Haven Tuesday night to take on a winless Wilbur Cross team that it defeated 47-12 earlier this season.
Shelton then hosts Sacred Heart Academy tonight and Lyman Hall of Wallingford on Friday night.
The Gaelettes lost to both Sacred Heart Academy and Lyman Hall the first time around this season, but both losses were by single-digits.