Girls basketball: Shelton comes up big in key moment

A 15-second sequence helped Shelton High hold off Cheshire High, 40-37, in an SCC matchup on Thursday night.

With the visiting Rams on a 5-0 run, trailing just 31-30 and threatening to take the lead, Shelton’s Leya Vohra knocked the ball away near mid court.

After the Rams retrieved the ball in the backcourt, Maggie Howard came away with a steal and layup despite a foul, with 4:12 left.

Off the ensuing missed free throw, Reem Abdel-Hack dove to the court to force a tie-up.

Possession arrow Shelton.

Mackenzie Joyce inbounded to Clarissa Pierre for a basket off the glass and it was 35-30 with just over four minutes remaining.

Cheshire got to within a pair three times down the stretch, but couldn’t get over the hump.

Shelton is now 2-1. Cheshire is 1-2.

“Our guards created a lot of pressure on their guards,” Shelton coach Joe Cavallaro said. “We got a number of steals and we pushed the ball down the court. Fundamentally, we played well at the end of the game.”

Shelton spread the wealth in the scorebook, with Pierre leading the way as the only player in double figures dropping in 10. Howard scored nine. Abdel-Hack scored eight and Vohra added six.

“Defense is important,” Howard said. “Every day in practice that’s what we focus on. Our steals are what get us going. It’s nice to get a win.”

A key to success for the Gaelettes was their protection of the basketball late. Shelton did not turn the ball over in the final four minutes.

The Rams made it 35-33 on a 3-pointer by Kaylee Clark, who had a chance for a rare 4-point play but missed the free throw, with 3:07 left.

Abdel-Hack’s turnaround shot, after taking a pass from Howard, gave the Gaelettes a four-point lead at 37-33 with 2:46 left.

Cheshire pulled back to within two with 1:08 to go, but Pierre answered with a put-back for a 39-35 lead with just 39 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock.

Cheshire scored with two seconds to play.

Shelton’s Kiera O’Connor rattled home the first free throw and missed the next try. Time ran out as the Rams tried a desperation heave from nearly full court.

“Mackenzie Joyce did a nice job inbounding the ball for us, with pressure, at the end of the game,” Cavallaro said of his senior.

“That’s the best, when you’re up by two and you have to hold them off,” said Shelton senior guard Gianna Gamboian. “It’s the best when everything works out how you want it to.”

Joyce led the Gaelettes with 10 rebounds. Vohra had six steals and four rebounds. Howard contributed three steals. Pierre grabbed five rebounds.

Cheshire canned five 3-pointers and Howard hit Shelton’s lone shot from behind the arc.

Shelton had enough scoring success in close and defensive effort to offset Cheshire’s downtown scoring prowess.

“We got the ball inside really well. Leah did a great job for us,” Cavallaro said of his point guard’s play. “I think we won the loose ball battle in the second half.”

Shelton led 18-16 at halftime and 27-24 after three quarters of play, never relinquishing the lead in the second half.

The Gaelettes had the challenge of guarding Cheshire standout Mia Juodaitis, who led all scorers with 14.

“She’s a tough kid to stop, especially when their outside players are hitting their threes,” said Cavallaro, adding that Joyce had the primary job of keeping Juodaitis off the boards, and that O’Connor and Pierre did a nice job with defensive positioning against the Rams.

“We played good enough defense. We haven’t found our shooting touch yet this year,” said Cavallaro, whose team will host East Hartford in its Holiday Tournament opener on Thursday, Dec. 27, at 7.


Mackenzie Joyce 1 0-0 2, Maggie Howard 4 0-1 9, Reem Abdel Hack 4 0-0 8, Leya Vohra 3 0-5 6, Kiera O Connor 1 1-2 3, Clarissa Pierre 5 0-0 10, Gigi Gamboin 1 0-0 2

Totals: 19 1-8 40


Kaylee Clark 2 0-1 6, Ariana Perlini 2 0-0 4, Mia Juodiatis 6 2-6 14, Emma Watkinson 5 0-0 13

Totals: 14 2-7 37

Cheshire: 9-7-8-13 — 37

Shelton: 10-8-9-13 — 40