Foran girls basketball team recovers from slow start, tops West Haven
MILFORD >> Coming off a loss to Immaculate in which his team scored only 17 points, it would not have been a surprise if Foran coach Bob Asmussen was worried.
When his team fell into an 11-0 hole to start Friday’s game against West Haven, he probably was.
But paced by freshman Mia Tunucci and seniors Lauren Notholt and Viktoria Notholt, Foran rallied, then held off a late West Haven surge in defeating the Westies 51-48 in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision contest at the Edna L. Fraser Gymnasium at Foran High Friday afternoon.
For the Lady Lions, it was their third win in four contests to improve to 3-4 on the year. West Haven, which had a week to recover from a buzzer-beating loss against Sacred Heart Academy, dropped its second in a row and fell to 2-3 on the year.
“We are very resilient,” Asmussen said. “We are down 11-0 in the game and it looks like we are going to get blown out. But we kept our composure. Freshman Mia Tunucci comes off the bench and hits some big shots to put us back in the game. Then, our defensive intensity picked up.”
Tunucci finished the game with 10 points, all coming in the first half, with the freshman delivering eight in a second quarter which saw Foran take a five point lead. The quarter also saw a big 3-pointer by Lauren Notholt which helped the Lady Lions take a 28-23 lead to the half.
“We were mad,” Lauren Notholt said of the early deficit. “We said to ourselves this was not going to happen. We came to play. We play pretty good defense. We have to prove ourselves offensively.”
The points by Tunucci and Lauren Notholt were crucial as the Westies jumped out of the gates quickly behind the scoring of Lauren Lewis, Destinee Francis, Jaymesha Sanders, Amanda Carr and Marianna Kalander.
Lewis and Carr each scored four points in the opening quarter, and Kalander added three more as West Haven led by two points after the first eight minutes of play.
“We made too many mental mistakes,” West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. “We would hit a big shot, then not make a play defensively.”
Foran’s defensive effort picked up in the second quarter as the Lady Lions allowed just two Westies to get in the scoring column with Lewis and Sanders each scoring just four points apiece.
“We work hard in practice on our defense,” Lauren Notholt said. “We are always talking, knowing where the shooters are.”
After a low-scoring third quarter, Foran increased its margin to nine points in the fourth quarter, before the Westies went on an 8-0 run. Francis and Kaitlynn Cooke drained 3-pointers, with Francis adding another as part of a 15-point fourth quarter for the Westies.
“It is frustrating,” Moriarty said. “We come out of the gates shooting, then we have lapses on defense. Basketball is a game of runs. Unfortunately, our runs were too short.”
“West Haven went on an 8-0 run when we were up nine, but the girls kept their composure,” Asmussen said.
Carr added a pair of baskets and Sanders hit another as West Haven got within 49-48 in the final seconds.
Foran’s Jessica McQuade hit both of her free throws with five seconds to go to put the Lady Lions up three, forcing a desperation 3-point attempt by Lewis from the top of the arc at the buzzer, which was off the mark. The Lady Lions did not have a turnover in the final eight minutes.
“We were able to force some turnovers,” Asmussen said. “We play better in transition. Today we got points in transition. With the lead and with pressure, we did not have any turnovers in the fourth quarter. They got that 3-pointer to cut it to one, but we held them there.
“Sam (Inthapanhya) played so hard defensively and Jess (McQuade) played really well. Jasmine Lord hit some big shots for us.”
Along with her 10 points, Tunucci was solid with six assists on the offensive side for the Lady Lions. Lauren Notholt added 10 rebounds to her 14 points, Viktoria Notholt had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Jasmine Lord had eight points and six assists.
Lewis and Sanders led West Haven with 12 points apiece, while Francis finished with 10, and Carr added eight.