Eagles open strong
The Jonathan Law girls basketball team came into the season looking to get off to a quick start, after missing the postseason for the second time in three seasons with a 6-14 record a year ago.
Coach Dan Young’s Eagles fought back from an early deficit to defeat host Shelton High 48-41 in their opener on Dec. 11.
On Friday, Law improved to 2-0 on the season after handily getting by Wilbur Cross by a 49-27 margin.
Laura Dulin threw down four 3-pointers leading the way with a game high 22 points in the win over Wilbur Cross.
Lianne Maynard scored 13 points giving the Eagles the advantage off the boards.
Erin Saley chipped in with five points, Kira Topalain added three points with Danielle Nantel, Jessica Centore and Jenna Bernard tallying two points each.
“The first two weeks of preseason practice has been great,” said Young, in his first year at the helm. “They have really bonded and come together as a team. They are working hard in practice everyday looking to improve and there is a lot of potential on this team.”
The Eagles started out slowly in the season opener, falling behind Shelton by a 14-8 margin. With under a minute left in the half Law responded with an 8-2 run to take the lead and the momentum.
Nantel (seven points, six rebounds, five steals) showed the quickness and tenacity on defense that kept the Eagles within striking distance.
Centore (three rebounds, two steals) began the comeback by hitting a shot from out on the wing.
Saley (seven points) threw down a shot down on the baseline, and then worked a textbook give-and-go as Maynard (11 points, eight rebounds) put one in off the window.
Just before the horn ended the first half, Dulin (16 points, three treys, five steals) swiped a Shelton possession and took it down the lane to give the Eagles a 17-16 lead at the break.
“That was the turning point,” said Young. “That late run just before the half ended gave us the lead and the momentum. It set us up for the second half and we made our foul shots at the end to hold them off.”
Kailee Frank helped out on defense and Topalain (five points, six rebounds) contributed on the boards when Law extended the lead in the third period.
Maynard and Dulin came out firing sending three-pointers through the cylinder giving the Eagles some breathing room at 23-16.
“We started out with a strong effort,” said Shelton head coach Mary Piccirillo. “With about two minutes left in the half we got a little lax and lost our intensity. Once Law got the momentum we couldn’t get it back.”
Saley hit back-to-back jumpers in the lane and Maynard knocked down a shot from the corner and Law starting to pull away at 29-18.
Shelton’s Nicole Roberts threw down a put-back and Colleen Flood (nine points) hit a pull-up jumper, as Shelton began to close the gap.
Nicole Beard hit a shot on the baseline, but the Gaelettes were still chasing the lead trailing 31-24 entering the final period.
Young said: “It says a lot about the character of this team. We withstood a comeback attempt from Shelton and hit our free throws down the stretch. These girls have each other’s back and our bench came through when we got into foul trouble.”
Three times in the fourth period, Shelton made it a two-possession game. Brooke McCone (16 points) hit a three from the corner to close the deficit at 36-32, and then Sarah Skoronski threw down a shot in the lane to pull Shelton within 39-35.
But on each occasion Law was put on the foul line and hit on 8 of 14 shots down the stretch to stay safely ahead.
Not even a 3-pointer from Beard with 34 seconds left to get Shelton within 46-41 of the lead could rattle the Eagles.
“Our defense stepped up when it had to,” Young said. “And, with the game on the line we hit enough of our foul shots to keep the lead.”
Law is be home to Branford on Friday night at 7.
The Eagles will compete with Foran High in a Holiday Tournament at Westhill High in Stamford on Dec. 26, and Dec. 28.
They travel to play Lyman Hall in Wallingford on Dec. 3,0 at 7 p.m.
Law has home games versus Foran High on Saturday, Jan. 4 and with Guilford on Tuesday, Jan. 7.