Law tops Maloney in Class L girls basketball opener

MILFORD — The game plan was simple for the Jonathan Law girls basketball team: limit the point totals of Maloney senior Melanie Polanco.

It worked to perfection.

Holding Polanco to just five points, and the rest of the Spartans in check for 32 minutes, No. 12 Law easily defeated No. 21 Maloney 62-28 in the opening round of the CIAC Class L state tournament Tuesday evening.

With the win, Law (15-7) will host No. 28 Branford, a 41-24 upset winner over No. 5 Naugatuck, Friday evening at 7 p.m. in the second round.

“We wanted the ball out of her (Polanco) hands as much as possible,” Law coach Dan Young said. “When she has the ball, she runs the show.”

Using a diamond-and-one defense, the Lady Lawmen held Maloney to just 22 percent (6-of-27) shooting from the field in the first half. By the time the Spartans hit their second field goal of the second quarter, Law was ahead by 25 points.

“We kept fighting,” Maloney coach John Vieira said. “Law is a great team. They proved why the SCC is one of the best conferences in the state.”

Behind the play of junior Fallon Andriolas, who scored 18 first half points and 29 in the game, Law took control of the game early.

A bucket by Andriolas gave Law a 9-2 advantage, before she drained a 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining in the opening quarter for a 16-5 advantage. The 3-pointer by Andriolas was part of an 11-0 run which extended into the second quarter for a 22-5 lead.

“The chemistry on the team is a lot better than last year,” Andriolas said. “We spend a lot of time together. We eat together before the game. We do a lot of team bonding.”

Maloney never got on track in the contest, especially in the first half where the Spartans scored just 13 points.

Polanco did not connect on a field goal in the opening 16 minutes as Law limited her to just three points by way of free throws. Polanco’s first and only field goal of the game opened the third quarter and got the Spartans within 34-15.

“We used the diamond and one,” Andriolas said. “We rotated well on the diamond. We wanted to double team her (Polanco). It was about communication.”

Law went on another run in the second quarter, this one 9-0, to take a 31-7 advantage. To Maloney’s credit, the Spartans fought back to start the third quarter, opening on an 8-2 run to get within 36-21 after a pair of free throws by Courtney Ubaike.

Maloney never got any closer.

“The key for us was Polanco,” Young said. “She is a great player. We used the energy of our defense to start our offense. That gave us rhythm. We took better shots. We used the adrenaline of a good defense for a good offense.”

Law answered with a 12-0 run behind eight points from Andriolas and four more from Samara Thacker for a 48-21 advantage with 1:55 left in the third quarter.

Cali Jolley added 11 points for the Lady Lawmen, while Thacker had 10 in the win. Dasia White led Maloney with eight points, while Ivori-Gem Johnson had six.