Girls basketball: East Haven runs past Foran Lions

WALLINGFORD — Top-seeded East Haven opened up its Southern Connecticut Conference quarterfinal contest with Foran High on a 10-0 run and never looked back in a Saturday-morning matchup at Sheehan High.

After extending that margin to 20-2 midway through the opening frame, and 30-8 after one quarter, the Yellowjackets coasted to a 74-38 triumph over the ninth-seeded Lions to punch their tickets to the SCC semifinals on Monday night at Jonathan Law in Milford.

“Very tough to rebound,” Asmussen said of the Easties’ opening barrage. “They had all five of their girls consistently hit shots. We tried to take away a couple of their shooters to start the game, but they had everybody else step up… They’re just very tough.”

Sophomore guard Erin Curran led the Yellowjackets’ balanced attack with a team-high 17 points, which included five 3-pointers. Overall, East Haven knocked down 13 shots from beyond the arc.

Senior guard Makenzie Helms added 13 points and five assists, Alannah Doheny chipped in with 11 points and Taylor Salato had 10 points to round out four East Haven scorers in double figures.

Jasmine led Foran with 19 points.

“We were really hyped up for the game,” said Helms, a University of Nebraska signee. “Even on the bus here, you could just tell the energy was just different. There was just no way we were going to let this game slip out of our hands.”

After a missed layup by Foran off of the opening tip, East Haven (17-4) relentless pressure defense yielded Lion turnovers on their next three possessions.

Three-pointers by Alexis Pendziwater and Curran and two baskets from Salato made it 10-0 East Haven at the 6:21 mark, before drove the lane for Foran’s first field goal. The Easties responded then with another 10-0 run, leading to Foran timeout with the Lions trailing 20-2.

Lord’s free throw stopped the deluge briefly, but East Haven put the game away by outscoring the Lions 10-5 to close the quarter.

“I thought our pressure bothered them,” East Haven head coach Anthony Russell said. “A lot of times our defense created our offense. We got up on them and cruised after that.”

Things got no easier for Foran (13-9) in the second frame, as East Haven held them to just three points, two coming on a Mia Tunucci basket, over the next eight minutes. That stifling defensive effort helped the Yellowjackets extend their advantage to 42-11 at the half.

“Our rotations were good,” Russell said. “We communicated in transition and that led to a lot of steals and a lot of easy baskets and a lot of open looks.”

East Haven’s efficiency on both ends of the courts overwhelmed the Lions, who upended crosstown rivals Jonathan Law in their first-round SCC matchup.

“We didn’t rebound as well as we needed,” Asmussen said. “If you’re going to compete against a team like that, you’ve got to get every defensive rebound. It’s got to be one-and-done.”

Foran will look to rebound in the Class L state tournament, which begins on Feb. 21. The Lions will likely host SCC foe Guilford High (9-11) in the opening round.

“We had 12 wins in my first three years here,” Asmussen said. “We had five last year. We have 13 this year. Most teams don’t go from five wins to winning an SCC championship... Winning an SCC game is hard enough, let alone winning an SCC playoff game.

“We accomplished that, we beat our rival Law. But you’re going to have to play a game like this and see the big picture and the growth and go through the troubles.”

EAST HAVEN 74, FORAN 38 (at Sheehan)

Foran (13-9)

Heenan 2 2-2 8 Inthapanhya 1 1-4 4 Tunucci 1 0-0 2 Lord 7 3-8 19 Mustane 1 0-0 2 Lucas 0 0-1 0 Collins 1 1-4 3

Totals: 13 7-19 38

East Haven (17-4)

Helms 5 1-2 13 Curran 6 0-0 17 Ragaini 2 1-2 5 A. Pendziwater 3 0-0 9 Salato 5 0-0 10 Doheny 4 1-2 11 Munoz 0 3-4 3 Punzo 1 0-0 3 Solorzano 0 1-2 1 Vitello 1 0-0 2.

Totals: 27 7-12 74

Scoring by Quarters

Foran              8   3  14 13— 38

E. Haven       30 12 18 14— 74

3-pointers: F—Heenan 2, Lord 2, Inthapanhya; EH— Curran 5, Pendziwater 3; Helms 2; Doheny 2; Punzo