Fourth-quarter run boosts Gaelettes

The Shelton High girls basketball team avenged a heartbreaking loss from earlier this season, and put itself on postseason’s doorstep, with a dramatic 42-32 win over visiting Lyman Hall of Wallingford Friday.

The Gaelettes (7-10) trailed the Trojans (11-7) throughout most of the game, until seniors Alyssa Eannotti and Megan Burke stoked a ferocious 23-5 comeback in the fourth quarter.

The victory put Shelton one win away from a playoff berth in the SCC playoffs and the state tournament.

It (7-10) played Sheehan of Wallingford (9-8) last night, visit Mercy High in Middletown (16-1) on Thursday, and host Jonathan Law of Milford (3-14) on Monday.

“Basically, we knew we just had to pick it up because we wanted this game,” said Eannotti, who scored 17 points and hauled in 14 rebounds.

“We needed it to get into the state tournament. We’ve been down in a couple games where we’d lose by two or lose in double overtime, but this time we came back and finished the game.”

Shelton’s inability to break the Trojans’ press kept the Gaelettes’ offense in check for the first quarter, as Lyman Hall took an 8-6 lead after one.

Lyman Hall (10-7) looked to increase its advantage in the second quarter, scoring two quick baskets and posting a pair of blocks on defense to build a 14-8 lead with three minutes left in the half.

Shelton refused to let the game slip away, as Burke (17 points) and Eannotti each swiped the ball away in transition, leading to an easy layup for Eannotti and an inside basket for freshman Nicole Roberts that cut the deficit to 16-14 at the half.

As stout as the Gaelettes’ attack was in the second quarter, their offense looked sloppy to start the second half.

The Trojans slowly built a 22-14 lead, as the locals committed five turnovers and couldn’t find any productive shots in the first six minutes of the period.

Junior Jessica Wilm broke the drought with a mid-range jumper off a sharp feed from Burke.

Eannotti earned a hard-fought putback basket and Burke swished a foul shot for Shelton in the final minute, but an inside score and a 3-pointer by Lyman Hall put Shelton at a sizable 27-19 disadvantage going into the final quarter.

Despite the deficit, Shelton coach Mary Piccirillo knew her team played its best in the fourth quarter, and stressed to her club that they would need to win the battle in the paint if they were going to win the game.

The Trojans scored the first three points of the final stanza, but Shelton bounced back with a 6-0 run featuring a putback basket by Eannotti, a steal by Nicole Beard that led to an inside score for Eannotti, and two foul shots from Burke to bring the Lyman Hall lead to 30-25 three minutes into the quarter.

Shelton’s stepped up its aggression on offense, as Burke earned another trip to the charity stripe and Beard (six rebounds) worked a put-back basket and foul.

Eannotti tipped in Beard’s miss from the foul line to get Shelton within a point and Burke worked two more foul shots to give Shelton a 33-32 lead with three minutes left in the game.

Lyman Hall struggled with the Gaelettes’ full-court press down the stretch, as Burke (five rebounds) and Eannotti cleaned the glass.

Burke hit a dazzling baseline drive and the combination of freshman Colleen Flood, Burke and Eannotti went 5-for-8 from the foul line to seal the win.

“It’s a great night with the boys playing right after us, so we had a good crowd,” Piccirillo said. “To beat Lyman Hall after a double-overtime loss at their place, that make its all the better. And to comeback after in the fourth, that’s unbelievable.”

She credited the turnaround to her seniors stepping up and being determined to make the postseason.

“This is definitely a morale booster,” Piccirillo said. “We’ve had a lot of tough losses in very close games, in overtime and at the buzzer, so this is a good win and hopefully we can feed off of it and get another one so we can get in the state tournament.

“I’m just happy that everyone turned it on at the end and did not give up.”

Shelton dropped a 55-49 decision to visiting Sacred Heart Academy of Hamden to start the week.

Burke scored 22 points for the Gaelettes, who went on a 19-10 run in the second quarter to take a 25-22 lead into the half.

SHA (11-6) won the next two periods, 12-7 and 21-17.

Eannotti scored 11 points, Roberts five and Wells four for Shelton.