Lions split SCC playoff games

Teneya McLaughlin scored a game-high 21 points and Kyra Blacketter came off the bench to score a career-high 11 points as the fourth-seeded Foran High girls’ basketball team defeated fifth-seeded Guilford, 51-40, Saturday afternoon in a Southern Connecticut Conference Tournament quarterfinal matchup at Sheehan High School in Wallingford.

The victory earned the Lions (13-8) a first-ever berth in the SCC semifinal round, where they dropped a 50-37 decision to top-seeded Career High (19-3) on Monday.

To make it to the semis, Foran had to beat Hammonasset Division foe Guilford for a third time this season. The Indians (13-8) made it tough on the Lions, with the two teams tied 30-30 with 1:38 left in the third quarter.

With leading scorer Taylor Ceballos on the bench with three fouls, the Lions proved they are not a one-dimensional squad.

Blacketter broke the tie with a pair of free throws. McLaughlin added a driving layup, and then drove and found Blacketter open underneath for a lay-up at the buzzer, as Foran took a 36-30 lead into the final quarter.

Ceballos opened the fourth period with a basket in the paint to extend the Foran lead to eight points, 38-30.

Guilford got within four points, 40-36, with 5:33 left, but Blacketter converted an Alex Librandi pass for a basket, and Librandi made a free throw to extend the Foran lead to 43-36 with 4:49 left in the game.

The Indians got back within five points, but McLaughlin answered with a runner in the lane, then made six straight free throws over the final 2:08 to seal Foran’s trip to the semifinals.

“All in all, it’s been Teneya McLaughlin leading our team all season,” Foran High coach Scott Nails said  of his junior guard.

“She’s one of the best in the state and we received big contributions from Kyra Blacketter.”

After Ceballos lit Guilford up for 33 total points in two regular season games, the Indians made a point to throw two and three players at the freshman center any time Foran tried to get the ball to Ceballos in the post.

Due to Guilford’s defense and some foul trouble, Ceballos finished the night with six points on 3-of-7 shooting.

She grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

With Guilford focusing on Ceballos, that opened the door for other Foran players to step up on offense.

Librandi had five of her six points on the afternoon and added a couple of steals, as Foran took a 24-20 lead into halftime.

Blacketter, a junior, scored all 11 of her points over the game’s final 18 minutes.

She added four rebounds, a couple of blocks and a steal

McLaughlin continued to play well in the second half, scoring 12 points to lead the Foran offense.