The Lauralton Hall basketball team is beginning to hit full stride right around the perfect time of the season.

The Crusaders fired on every cylinder Monday night in trimming defending Class M state champion St. Joseph of Trumbull, 52-24, in Milford.

They have put together an impressive run, having won six of their last seven games to even their record at 6-6. All of that has come after the Crusaders dropped their first five games.

Trish Gildea, who scored a career-high 18 points and added six rebounds, put it succinctly.

“We were tired of losing,” the Milford native said. “We realized after those first five games that it was time we played our game and to not let anyone stand in our way.” So far, it has worked to near perfection.

The Crusaders hit on 22 of 36 shots from the floor against the Cadets, who have struggled of late without their best player — forward Jackie Jozefick, who, after suffering a concussion two weeks ago, has been cleared to play in the team’s next game against Stamford.

There aren’t too many nights when a team makes 60 per cent of its shots from the floor.

“We played out of our minds tonight,” said Lauralton Hall coach Amanda Forcucci, who guided the Crusaders to a Class LL state title two years ago. “Everything fell into place tonight. We not only ran the floor well, we spotted the open player and made the pass.

“This is a young group and I think that explains our slow start. But they’ve matured in a basketball sense over the last seven years. You can see it on offense and on defense. We’re forcing teams to make mistakes and getting baskets off of the transition.”

Leading 23-15 at halftime, Lauralton Hall increased the tempo in the second half and the results showed.

Forcing 16 turnovers for the game, the Crusaders, after seeing their margin cut to six when the Cadets’ Chelsea Dos Santos scored two of her team-high 10 points, went on a 15-0 run, taking a 40-17 lead into the final quarter before it became clean-up time.

“They took us out of just about everything we tried tonight,” said St. Joseph coach Chris Lindwall. “That’s a credit to them. I thought when we scored early in the third quarter that perhaps we’d be able to cut it to four. But we missed shots, turned the ball over and they took it from there.

“This is a tough loss for us. All of the kids are feeling it. We came in here 7-4 and hoped to qualify for state tournament play if we could’ve gotten a win. Instead, my hope is we build from this loss and get Jackie back.”

The Cadets were only able to convert on 8 of 36 field-goal attempts (22 per cent) and were outrebounded, 34-18. Their second-half point production of nine was the lowest for them this year.

Lauralton senior Emily Spahn had 13 points and nine rebounds. Seven players scored for Lauralton Hall.

It was the second game in a row where the Crusaders have had a big second half.

Last Thursday Lauralton Hall defeated city rival Foran High, 48-28, by outscoring the Lions, 25-8, over the second 16 minutes of play.

Leading the way was senior guard Amethyst Barzee, who scored 15 points while Gildea had 11 and Spahn added nine.

“We’ve simply been playing great man-to-man defense and that’s what turned this game around tonight,” Forcucci said following the win over Foran. “Defense creates offense. We caught them in transition, forced mistakes (Foran committed 20 turnovers), and scored off of them.”

The St. Joseph game was televised and will run on CPTV Sports later this week,