WEST HAVEN — Foran girls basketball coach Scott Nails knows his opponents read the papers. He is well aware teams know what star player Annie Raucci does on any given night.
With that being said, Nails feels it is important for the rest of the team to add to the scoring column.
Last Monday night in West Haven saw Cristina Lapenna take charge.
Lapenna scored a game-high 23 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, as the Lions defeated West Haven 48-35.
Lapenna was a disturbance to the Westies (3-4) all game long, something pleasing to Nails.
“That was a career-high for her (Lapenna),” Nails said after his team improved to 4-2. “I told her if she did not want to shoot, she was not going to play. She was a lot more aggressive out there.
“Taylor Jagoe was all over the place. Annie Raucci was Annie. Everyone keys on her. Others have to step up.”
The game was an offensive struggle for both teams through the game’s first 16 minutes as Foran led 20-17 at the half.
A different Lion team came out for the second half and Foran dominated the inside and used its pressure to force numerous Westie turnovers.
“We felt they played their tempo in the first half,” Nails said. “It was warm in the gym tonight. We subbed quicker and more frequently in the second half. We were able to wear them down.”
A basket by West Haven’s Emina Zahirovic cut the Lion lead to 20-19 but West Haven never got closer.
A 6-0 run by the Lions, keyed by four points from Genna Savoca, had the Lions up 26-19 with 4 minutes, 54 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Katy Hoyt’s 3-pointer got West Haven within 28-23 but Lapenna scored four of her team’s next six points to build the lead to 34-25.
“We did not do a good job doubling down,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “We were late on the block.”
Foran built the lead to 11 in the fourth quarter on a basket by Raucci and a free throw by Hannah Weissauer before Jayva Johnson drained a 3-pointer with 5:02 remaining to cut the deficit to eight.
When West Haven’s Nicole Pacapelli converted a pair of free throws with 4:15 remaining, the Lion lead was down to seven.
Lapenna had an answer. She scored Foran’s final eight points as the Lions went on an 8-0 run and built a 48-33 lead to put away the Westies.
“I am very happy,” Nails said. “We will celebrate the win until we get off the bus. Then we will think about practice.”
Despite poor first-quarter shooting, West Haven held its only lead of the game at 10-7 following a basket by Gina Biondi. Pacapelli had given West Haven an early lead before the Lions drew within one at the end of the first quarter.
Lapenna gave Foran a lead it never relinquished in the second quarter at 11-10 before Raucci (12 points) extended the lead to three.
McKenzie Farquharson got West Haven within one but a 3-pointer by Taylor Jagoe later in the quarter extended Foran’s lead to 17-12.
Lapenna hit a basket and free throw to give Foran a six-point lead before a Pacapelli free throw and a Farquharson basket brought the Westies as close as 20-17 with 33 seconds left in the first half.
“We struggled to score,” Eagan said. “That can be the storyline all year. We are offensively challenged. It is not due to a lack of effort. We spend a lot of time in practice shooting. We are not a good shooting team.”
Farquharson led West Haven with 10 points. Zahirovic added eight points and nine rebounds while Pacapelli had seven points and six rebounds.