Moment defines Lauralton Hall as team

Tears come when you lose something special; pride returns when you know you did everything possible to make it happen.

Michelle DeSantis’ postgame interview after Lauralton Hall’s Class LL championship game with Mercy High of Middletown could have been about the Crusaders winning a 53-51 decision for the program’s first state title, and her go-ahead basket.

Instead the tears continued to flow as The Play overshadowed every other thought until DeSantis was asked about her teammates.

“We always wanted to make it here, and to lose like that, probably the most difficult way possible, it’s going to be hard to look back,” she said about Mercy’s Maria Weselyj’s last-second shot that gave the Tigers a 54-53 victory at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville on Saturday night.

“We worked so hard to get here. Everyone gave it their all. Literally, we were so close.”

DeSantis had made her way from being a senior captain to being a legend in the 12.9 seconds it took for Lauralton Hall to inbound the ball and DeSantis to score and turn a 51-51 tie into a 53-51 victory, or so it seemed in front of 9,800 disbelieving fans.

Then, fate joined the fray when the clock that had struck :00 and sent the Crusaders and their strong fan base into a frenzy, was turned back to 3.8 and Mercy High came out of a called-for timeout if the Crusaders’ scored, and Weselyj swished home a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer.

That’s when DeSantis stepped through the doorway from the desolate Lauralton High locker room to remind us the game was made up of more than one play.

She explained how proud she was of her team’s defense, and how well it had slowed Mercy’s perimeter game.

Most of all, DeSantis spoke of how much her teammates, her four years at Lauralton meant to her, and that:

“I think we definitely showed Lauralton Hall’s best basketball season worries, just tears.”