Red-hot Hamden defeats Shelton girls in state quarterfinals
SHELTON — Some teams are built for the postseason, and the Hamden girls basketball team appears to be one of them.
After finishing the regular season losing six of its final eight games, No. 19 Hamden has now won seven straight playoff games, including the SCC championship, after its 43-37 Class LL quarterfinal victory over No. 11 Shelton Monday night.
“I just feel like our team chemistry has gotten better over these past few games,” Hamden’s Asya Brandon said. “I hurt my ankle, I came back, we won SCC’s and I think that just picked up the momentum for us.”
Brandon was once again the sparkplug for Hamden, leading all scorers with 16 points to continue her string of strong tournament performances.
“I think in the postseason something just clicked,” Hamden coach Amanda Forcucci said. “We’ve been talking chemistry all year long and I am just happy it clicked at the right time. Asya has been a tremendous leader this year. Everybody follows suit, everybody follows her.”
Senior captain Rebecca Oberman-Levine added 10 points for Hamden.
When the two teams met in the SCC semifinal, it took a fourth quarter comeback for Hamden to advance, but in the second meeting Hamden broke ahead early.
Hamden will advance to the Class LL Semifinals against No. 2 Newtown on Friday.
“We’re going to keep going, we’re going to fight,” Brandon said. “We know it’s going to be a tough game coming up, but we will try to push through. We want it bad, we want to get to the (Mohegan) Sun. We are going to work as hard as we can and play together. We just want to get there.”
The Green Dragons put 15 on the board in the first quarter, which would amount to Shelton’s eventual halftime total, before adding another 12 in the second.
“We didn’t play our best game,” Shelton coach Joseph Cavallaro said. “We played pretty poorly in the second half, we had our chances. Four-of-14 from the foul line killed us, but I am proud that we came back. We were down 12-13 points and we made it close a couple of times. We got our chances and we just didn’t make the shots.”
Shelton came out much stronger in the second half, outscoring Hamden 12-6 in the third to make it a six-point game.
The Gaels were able to get within five in the final quarter, but Hamden held its ground from there to secure the victory.
“We feel grateful to be here,” Forcucci said. “We are always thinking about one game at a time. We didn’t play great tonight so I think it felt weird. We won and we were happy with the win obviously, but it felt like that was hard. Give it to Shelton, they came out and fought hard. They took us out of some of the stuff that we wanted to do and that’s tournament play, we have to be ready for that.”
For Shelton, the season comes to a close, but Cavallaro likes what he saw from his team this season and believes the future is bright.
“This year we really improved,” Cavallaro said. “We won 10 games last year and we basically had the same exact team and we won 19 games. We grew up a lot and we have four junior starters so a lot of kids will be back next year and we think we will be even better.”
HAMDEN 43, SHELTON 37
Asya Brandon 5 5-7 16; Rebecca Oberman-Levine 3 3-5 10; Yariliz Santiago 3 1-2 8; Montsho Canton 1 0-0 2; Diamond White 3 0-0 6; Leila Smith 0 1-2 1. Totals: 15 10-16 43
Leya Vohra 1 1-4 3; Clarissa Pierra 3 2-6 9; Keira O’Connor 3 0-0 7; Devan Wildman 3 0-0 7; Ashia Askew 4 1-2. Totals 14 4-14 37
HAMDEN15 12 6 10—43
SHELTON6 9 12 10—37
3-point field goals: H—Brandon, Oberman-Levine, Santiago; S—O’Connor, Wildman.