Strong second half leads East Haven by Amity girls basketball team

EAST HAVEN >> Down by as many as nine points in the first half, the East Haven girls basketball team was poised to show what it was made of. Scoring the first nine points of the second half did the trick.

Behind 23 points from junior Olivia Coyle and 22 more from fellow junior Kylie Schlottman, East Haven defeated a gritty Amity team 63-54 Friday evening at East Haven High.

“We were mad we were down,” Coyle said. “We do not like to be down. Once we get going, we are fine. We like the uptempo game.”

That quick tempo proved immediate dividends to start the second half as Coyle scored six points in the run and Schlottman added three more to turn a 28-27 deficit into a 36-28 lead which the Easties never relinquished.

“I told them this is a gutsy win,” East Haven coach Anthony Russell said. “That is a good Amity team. Coach Shoop does a great job over there with them. They always play hard for her.”

Amity (4-3) got within five points on a 3-pointer by freshman Jillian Martin. Baskets by Coyle and Schlottman extended the lead once again to nine, before baskets by Amity’s Martin and Hannah Iwaszkiewicz sandwiched a free throw by Tara Laugeni to get the Spartans within 42-38 after three quarters of play.

“East Haven is a great team,” Amity coach Michelle Shoop said. “They have outside threats and they score from the inside. We knew they were going to be a challenge. We have to cut down on our mistakes.”

Martin, who finished with a game-high 24 points, tried to get the Spartans back in front, but Amity never got closer than four points in the final quarter.

After Martin got the Spartans within 44-40, a basket and free throw by Coyle increased the East Haven lead to seven and created separation between the teams.

When Alexis Pendziwater drained a 3-pointer, East Haven’s lead was 10 at 52-42.

“We play nine or ten kids,” Russell said. “We have had eight different people in double figures. With that many kids scoring, it is tough for other teams to defend. It makes my life easier.”

East Haven (8-1) hit 19 of 30 free throws in the game, including 14 of 23 in the final eight minutes when the Spartans fouled, looking to get back in the game.

“We have a lot of different parts on this team,” Coyle said. “It is not just one or two players. Everyone plays a part.”

Amity scored eight of the nine first points in the game, including five by Laugeni. A 3-pointer by Amity senior Emma Gehr, and a bucket and two free throws by Martin led to an 18-8 Amity lead late in the opening quarter.

East Haven closed the second quarter on a 9-4 run to get within 28-27. Coyle started the run and had 10 points in the time frame, while a pair of free throws by Schlottman with seven seconds remaining in the first half gave East Haven a 27-26 lead.

Iwaszkiewicz refused to let East Haven take the lead to the half, connecting on a bucket with one second remaining in the first half for a 28-27 Amity advantage.

Laugeni and Iwaszkiewicz each scored eight points and Gehr finished with seven for the Spartans.