Girls basketball: Shelton defeats Cheshire with defense

It may not have been pretty, but Shelton High will take the victory.

The Gaelettes led the entire way, holding Cheshire to a season-low 29 points en route to a 40-29 Southern Connecticut Conference interdivisional road win Friday night.

“We know we’re not going to play pretty games,” Shelton coach Joe Cavallaro said. “We very rarely do. We have to win scrappy-type games, and we’ve been able to win our share so far that way.”

Shelton improves to 6-6 overall.

Cheshire, coming off a double overtime, upset win over Foran on Tuesday, falls to 5-6.

The Rams struggled from the opening tip, needing seven-plus minutes to erase the ‘zero’ from the scoreboard.

The Gaelettes took advantage of the cold-shooting Rams, opening up a 21-6 lead on a Mackenzie Joyce fast break layup off the Leya Vohra lead pass with three minutes left in the first half.

But Cavallaro knew Shelton wouldn’t escape Cheshire without the Rams putting up a fight.

Cheshire went on a 16-4 run over the next 8:30, making it a one-possession game, 25-22, on a Mia Joudaitis conventional three-point play late in the third quarter.

“We knew they were going to make a run,” Cavallaro said. “It was a matter of once they made the run, if we could come back ourselves.”

And the Galettes did weather the storm, answering with a 6-0 run to regain control, 31-22, with 6:20 left in the game.

A defensive change on Juodaitis, who sparked the Cheshire run with all seven of her points, played a key role in the outcome.

“In the last quarter, when Mackenzie Joyce matched up with Mia [Juodaitis], she did a really good job of denying her the ball. Because once [Juodaitis] has the ball, she’s very difficult to stop,” Cavallaro said.

Cheshire’s Kaylee Clark nailed a trey to bring Cheshire back within six points, 31-25, with six minutes remaining.

But Shelton went on a quick 7-0 tear over the next 40 seconds — a Joyce layup, a Maggie Howard three-pointer and Vohra scoop layup — to take control for good.

“We did a good job pushing the ball up,” said Cavallaro of an offense that overcame 26 turnovers and 2-of-10 free-throw shooting in the second half to post the double-digit win. “We made most of our baskets on fast breaks and layups.

“Half-court, we didn’t have a lot of success. But we held them to 29 points. If you do that, you deserve to win a lot of games.”

Joyce led a balanced Shelton attack with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Howard added 10 points, and Clarissa Pierre and Vohra nine each.

Vohra also contributed eight rebounds, four steals and four assists.

Keira O’Connor and Pierre each grabbed seven boards.

Juodaitis and Clark paced Cheshire with seven each, while freshman Grace Lurz added six.

Shelton, which has now won two-of-three games after four straight losses, continues a three-game road trip next week with Quinnipiac Division games at Sacred Heart Academy (Tuesday) and North Haven (Friday).