Basketball: Gaelettes win opener over Hamden

The Shelton High girls basketball team opened up its season and new coach Joe Cavallaro’s tenure with a 40-38 win over visiting Hamden High on Friday night at Murray Gymnasium.

But it wasn’t easy for the Gaelettes, as they withstood a potential game-tying layup from Jessica Davis at the buzzer.

A collision at halfcourt allowed Davis to get free with Hamden inbounding from underneath its own basket with 4.4 seconds left to play. But, her layup was off the mark and Shelton notched the hard-fought Southern Connecticut Conference Interdivision victory.

“We played with heart, we were down almost the entire game,” Cavallaro said. “Not by a lot, five or six was the most. But we battled back and got some good shots down the stretch.”

Casey O’Connor, a sophomore center, led Shelton with 14 points — including 12 in the first half to keep the Gaelettes in the game.

Colleen Flood chipped in with 10 points, Sarah Skoronski eight and Nicole Wells and Eliza Lewis with four apiece.

Lauren Singleton paced the Green Dragons with a game-high 20 points.

Shelton trailed for a majority of the first three quarters, until a driving basket by Flood and a steal and layup from Wells gave it a 30-29 lead heading into the final stanza.

The Green Dragons, who scored just 15 points in the second half, opened the fourth quarter with consecutive baskets to regain a 33-30 edge, but Flood tied it up with an old-fashioned three-point play with 5:04 left.

The junior forward tipped in her miss, then sank the foul shot to pull Shelton even.

With 2:53 left, Flood put the Gaelettes ahead for good, spinning through the lane and tossing one home for a 37-35 edge.

“Flood made some big baskets at the end,” Cavallaro said.

Wells then set up O’Connor for a layup and a 39-35 margin. That was Shelton’s final field goal of the game, but Flood converted the front end of a one-and-one with 15.7 seconds left.

That countered a free throw from Singleton and bank shot from Davis. Wells then came up with a steal with 4.4 seconds left, but she missed the front end of the one-and-one.

Hamden called timeout, then drew up a play that got Davis free, thanks to Shelton defenders getting tangled up.

The shot did not fall though, as the Gaelettes secured the season-opening victory.

“I was pleased, we played hard the whole game,” said Cavallaro, who got his first victory in his first game at Shelton High.

The veteran coach has won over 300 career games at stops including Emmett O’Brien Tech, Seymour High and, most recently, St. Joseph of Trumbull.

Shelton travels to Fred Kelly Gymnasium tonight to take on North Haven High, before hosting Sacred Heart Academy from Hamden on Friday. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.