Lauralton Hall defeats Pomperaug in SWC matchup

Lauralton Hall and Pomperaug High have been known to play some classics in this South-West Conference basketball rivalry. The 14-1 Crusaders took on their nemesis the 12-5 Panthers, in Southbury on Feb. 4, to let the chips fall where they may.

Pomperaug got into foul trouble, and Lauralton Hall converted 22 of 33 attempts from the charity stripe and the Panthers just 5-of-12, and the Crusaders pulled away with a 63-45 win.

“This is never an easy place to come into,” said Lauralton Hall head coach Amanda Forcucci. “Pomperaug is a great team and we came in here a little sluggish after being off for two days with the weather.

“They came out and their shooting percentage in the first half was phenomenal, even though they only scored 25 points.

“And we needed to keep an eye on Hannah Metcalf. She’s an excellent shooter, but this year has proved she can do a lot of things out there and knowing where she was on the court became a priority for us.”

Lauralton got the transition game in gear on the strength of a 41-20 advantage in the rebounding department.

Emma McCarthy had a staggering double-double throwing down 28 points and hauling away 21 rebounds, more than the Pomperaug team combined.

The Panthers managed to stay close in the first half with Lauren Rubinstein scoring 16 points and Hannah Metcalf adding 10. But with key players on the bench in foul trouble, Pomperaug went through spells where they were held without a basket.

None was bigger and more devastating than the seven and a half minute span from the end of the second period to the end of the third period, when the Panthers couldn’t score a basket.

Lauralton Hall turned a 24-23 deficit into a 41-25 lead sparked by a 14-0 run to start the third period.

McCarthy scored four baskets in the game-changing run, with Emily Menendez (seven points, seven rebounds) hitting a turn-around jumper in the lane and Maggie Salandra (10 points) making a baseline drive.

“I think in the first half we had too many turnovers throwing the ball away without thinking about what we are doing,” said Forcucci. “At halftime we made a few adjustments to get back to basics, and once we did that we became more effective on the court.”

The Crusaders clung to a 12-11 lead after the first period. Pomperaug committed seven turnovers, but Lauralton Hall wasn’t shooting up to par.

The Panthers were leading by a 24-23 margin with 2:54 to go in the half. It would be the last time they held the lead as their next basket would come with 3:28 left in the third period.

Emily Spann scored down on the baseline to give the Crusaders a slim 27-25 lead at the half. Lauralton Hall went on to outscore Pomperaug 20-7 in the third period with Maureen Connolly taking one down the lane to open up a 47-32 lead heading into the final period.

Colleen McCarthy and Carly Fabbri (11 points) hit free throws down the stretch to keep the Crusaders out on top. Lauralton Hall knocked down 7 of 14 in the final period for the 63-45 final margin.

The Crusaders improved to 15-1 on Friday, earning a convincing 77-39 win over Barlow.

Emma McCarthy led the way with another strong double-double performance, scoring 25 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.

Fabbri scored 25 points on five treys and seven assists, with Menendez adding a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Lauralton Hall is home to Bethel on Friday.