MILFORD — It took a total class effort for Guilford High to rally back and defeat Foran High, 52-49, in a Class L first-round state tournament game on Monday night.
Freshman Miabella Diaz made two free throws to give the 21st-seeded Indians their first lead at 50-49 with 20.9 seconds remaining.
Sophomore Moira Kellaher knocked down a pair with 9.6 remaining to extend the advantage to 52-49.
But it was until senior Janie Danaher blocked a potential game-tying three-pointer that Guilford coach Bob Welsh could exhale.
“We lost by to Wilbur Cross in a game just like this when they tied it with four seconds left and went on to beat us in 50-49 in overtime,” Welsh said. “Tonight, we fell behind by ten, but I thought we battled back well on defense and on the boards. Our young players made those free throws and our captain blocked the last shot.”
Diaz, Danaher, Lauren Cunneen and Faith O’Donnell finished in double figures for Guilford (10-12)
Foran, the No. 12 seed, broke on top 10-0 and held a high-water mark between 5-and-8 points for much of the contest. Mia Tunucci scored 18 points and Jasmine Lord 12 for the Lions (13-10).
Courtney Musante scored three consecutive points to keep the Lions’ lead level, before O’Donnell had a pair of baskets to bring the score to 21-14 at the half.
Cunneen showed off her mid-range game in the third period, when Guilford’s third freshman standout scored 10 points.
Foran went to Lord (7 points), Tunucci (6 points) and Sam Inthapanhya (4 points) in the period.
Bridget Collins made four free throws and Lauren Heenan scored on a runner.
Foran went into the final quarter with a 41-31 lead.
“Our emphasis was to rebound and run,” Foran coach Bob Asmussen said. “We did that well for three quarters. In the fourth, we didn’t rebound and didn’t get out on their shooters. Give them credit. They hit their three’s and made some big free throws.”
The four freebies down the stretch were made valuable because of an effort from O’Donnell — another freshman.
“We don’t rely on the three, but Faith certainly made them when we needed them,” Welsh said.
O’Donnell made Guilford’s first three-point basket with six minutes remaining to get the deficit to seven.
Elle Petra’s hustle steal thwarted a Lion fast-break opportunity, and Kellaher assisted on another long-range bucket by O’Donnell.
Tunucci backed down her defender on the block and put the ball off the glass for a 47-41 lead with 3:51 left.
Things then went from hot to hotter.
Diaz got Tunucci’s basket back with a strong drive in traffic.
With the game under three minutes, Foran’s Jasmine Lord found Tunucci free inside for a bucket.
O’Donnell calmly made another three-pointer and it was 49-46.
Diaz scored on a baseline drive to make it a one-point game.
Petra stole a Foran inbounds pass after a timeout, before Diaz was fouled and gave Guilford the lead from the charity stripe.
“I’m so proud,” Welsh said. “We lost our junior point guard Sam Leiby to an injury, and have had to go with a much younger lineup with a couple of freshman and sophomores.
“We get (No. 5) East Haven next. We haven’t played them this season, but I know we have to get a game plan going for Makenzie Helms (the Easties’ top scorer).”
Tipoff Thursday in East Haven is 7 p.m
EAST HAVEN 52, FORAN 49 (at Foran)
Moira Kellahar 1-2-2-4 Miabella Diaz 4-3-6-11 Lauren Cunneen 4-3-5-11 Elle Petra 2-0-0-4 Janie Danahar 5-0-0-10 Olivia Ste.Marie 0-0-2-0 Faith O’Donnell 4-1-2-12
Totals: 20 9-17 52
Lauren Heenan 10-1-2 Sam Inthapanhya 3-1-1-8 Mia Tunucci 8-0-0-18 Jasmine Lord 5-2-4-12 Courtney Musante 1-3-4-5 Emma Lucas 0-0-0-0 Bridget Collins 0-4-4-4
Totals: 18 10-14 49
Scoring by Quarters
Guilford 6 8 17 21 52
Foran 13 8 20 8 49
3-point Made: Guilford O’Donnell 3; Foran Inthapanhya, Jasmine 2