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With an almost completely revamped lineup in place, Lauralton Hall’s girls basketball team showed plenty of potential for success in a season-opening 41-35 setback at former conference rival Newtown High on Dec. 10.

The Crusaders, in their first year in the Southern Connecticut Conference, met with a familiar foe – the South-West Conference’s Nighthawks, a team they battled for years on an annual basis – in a hard-fought game that was far from decided until the final couple of minutes.

Newtown built an early lead and fended off a spirited Crusader comeback as the visitors erased a 23-16 second-half deficit to eventually tie the score at 28 apiece in the fourth quarter.

Clinging to a 30-29 lead with a little more than five minutes to play, the Nighthawks inched away with seven unanswered points to put the game out of reach.

Maggie Salandra, the lone returning starter, led the Crusaders with 11 points. Trish Gilden had 8, Colleen McCarthy added 7, Tanisha Clark contributed 5, Amethyst Barzee had 3 and Emily Spahn tacked on a free throw.

“Once they keep playing together, once they gel more, once they gain some of the chemistry they should be okay,” said coach Amanda Forcucci. “Every game is a test to see how well we did, or what are we learning.”

Turn to the next edition of the Mirror for complete game story.