Sam Murphy the real deal for Law

Sam Murphy epitomizes what coach Heather Borges’ Jonathan Law girls basketball team is all about.

When the Eagles needed someone to step up and score points, Murphy was there.

When a big rebound was needed, the senior guard went and got it.

When some muscle was needed, Murphy applied it.

When the going got tough during what was a testing season, Murphy garnered up the grit that was needed.

So it wasn’t all that surprising that Murphy was the main ingredient when Law knocked off tourney-bound Shelton High, 49-43, in Shelton on Friday night.

Murphy scored 22 points for Law, which won its last three games to finish at 6-14.

The win over the 8-12 Gaelettes put a cap on the season, a year in which Borges started as many as three freshmen.

“Our kids may have started out slow and after losing our first eight games, we could’ve caved in,” Borges said. “But that wasn’t what this group was about. We kept striving to get better and we did.

“We’re playing our best basketball now. If we had three games left, I bet we’d make the play-offs. Unfortunately, we don’t.”

Murphy’s point-production came on the heels of the 23 she scored earlier in the week, when the Eagles defeated North Haven, 50-29. Their other victory in the stretch came over Hillhouse, 54-53.

“All we wanted to do tonight was go out and give this game our best effort,” said Murphy, who transferred to Law from Lauralton Hall midway through her sophomore season and will play basketball at Keene State in New Hampshire.

“We wanted to finish this season on a positive note. Over the last three or four games, we began believing in ourselves. That’s really what our season came down to.”

Murphy also keyed a defense thath limited the scoring ability of Shelton’s bigger players, especially in the final quarter.

Law came into the final frame trailing, 37-36, but the Eagles held the Gaels to seven points while scoring 14. Murphy’s bank-shot basket with 1:26 remaining gave the Eagles their final lead at 43-41.

Law made six free throws  down the stretch and Murphy converted five of them.

“Our three seniors (the other two are starting guard Catie Miller and reserve Kyra Alston, who started against Shelton) got to go out as winners and that was important,” Borges said.

“We played an awesome game tonight. When it came to that final quarter, we really played as a team.

“That’s what I liked most about this group. They always wanted to get better. Sometimes teams can lose their first five games of a season (Law dropped its first eight) and they’ll cave in. We didn’t.”

Law took a 13-10 lead after one quarter, but Shelton narrowed Law’s margin to 15-14 when senior captain Alyssa Eannotti (who shared scoring honors with Nicole Roberts as each had 10 points) scored from underneath.

Megan Burke’s basket off of transition at 4:20 gave Shelton an 18-17 lead, but Law bounced back to take a 23-22  halftime lead when Miller made two free throws with 13 seconds left.

Law continued to control play in the third quarter, taking a five-point lead, 35-30, on a Jenna Bernard basket with 2:02 remaining.

But, Shelton went on a run. A basket by Eannotti followed by a pair from Burke gave the Gaelettes the lead heading into the final quarter.

“Then we went away from our game plan,” Shelton coach Mary Piccirillo said. “We needed to get the ball into the big kids in that last quarter. We simply didn’t do it. We fell apart.”

Miller scored 11 points for Law, and both teams shot nearly the same percentage from the floor. Law made 18-of-52 (34 percent), while Shelton was 18-of-53 (33 percent).

Law won the game at the foul line, converting on 12-of-16 compared to only 6-of-10 for the Gaelettes.

Shelton held a 41-35 edge in rebounds, as Roberts had 11. Erin Saley paced Law with eight and Miller had six.

Shelton turned the ball over 21 times, as opposed to 18 for Law.