Westies defeat East Haven
Solid defense propels team to ninth win of season
By MIKE MADERA
(January 13, 2012) – The West Haven girls’ basketball team had already beaten East Haven earlier in the season. Struggling in the first win over the Easties, West Haven hoped to have smoother sailing the second time around.
While the first half proved to be a battle, the Westies used a solid defense and a strong fourth quarter to defeat the Yellow Jackets 55-41 Thursday evening at East Haven.
“I have had a theory for thirty-three years,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “They second time you play a team, the team that has lost the first game has the advantage because they ware working on things they need to improve on from the loss. The team that won figures we beat them the first time.”
The West Haven defense played well, never allowing East Haven to score more than 11 points in any quarter. West Haven did what it needed to do in the first half and took a 26-21 lead to the half.
The first quarter saw Jayva Johnson lead the way with six points and Rae Mattaway follow right behind with four more. Johnson finished the game with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Mattaway and Johnson were at it again in the second quarter. With East Haven holding McKenzie Farquharson to just one point in the first half, Mattaway and Johnson combined for ten of the team’s eleven second quarter points. Talisha Martinez added a 3-pointer in the quarter as West Haven led 26-21 at the half.
“We were up five at the half,” Eagan said. “The lead ballooned to nineteen points and we were able to get a lot of kids who don’t normally get into the game in.
“The nice thing is we played four different defenses in the game. They commented after the game they did not know what defense we were in. When you play that many defenses, it gives teams problems.”
The Westies extended the lead to seven in the third quarter. Johnson again led the way with six points and Savannah Brown and McKenzie Farquharson each scoring three points.
“The other key to the game was this was the second game McKenzie Farquharson has scored under 10 points and we won,” Eagan said. “She had a monster game on the boards. We are not one-dimensional. It is nice to have different players who can score. Jayva and Rae have done well.”
The Westies continued to pull away in the fourth quarter. Johnson, Brown and Farquharson each scored four points as the Westies improved to 9-2.
“I am happy,” Eagan said. “The last few games we have been very consistent. Our goal is to average in the mid fifties scoring and keep teams to forty. That is our top priority all the time.”
Mattaway finished the game with 12 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals, Brown had 7 points, 10 rebounds and two steals while Farquharson scored eight points, dished out four assists and pulled down 11 rebounds.
The Westies had 42 rebounds in the game with Gabby DeSisto also grabbing seven rebounds.
Back to the Postseason
After 3-year absence, Westies qualify for state tournament
By MIKE MADERA
(January 10, 2012) – After three years, the West Haven girls’ basketball team is headed back to the state tournament. Needing one more win to lock up its bid in the postseason, West Haven defeated North Haven 52-41 at North Haven Tuesday evening.
“It’s good to be back in it,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said after his team improved to 8-2. “But, like I told the kids, eight wins gets you a two and a half hour bus ride. Nine, ten and eleven wins get you an hour and a half on the bus. We want to build from here. We want a home game in the SCC tournament and we want to play at home in the state tournament.
“The bottom line is we will be playing more than twenty games this year. I am happy for Rae (Mattaway) and McKenzie (Farquharson). They have not experienced that.”
While the Indians scored 15 points in the opening quarter, the Westies showed they were ready to play. Behind Jayva Johnson’s 10 points in the opening quarter and four more from Savannah Brown, the Westies led by four points after one quarter.
“She is an offensive catalyst,” Eagan said of Johnson. “She can score in a number of ways. If she gets going early, that is very important in every part of her game. When she contributes on offense, her defense picks up.”
West Haven’s poor free throw shooting, where the Westies were just 8 of 25 in the game from the line, allowed the Indians to remain in the game. The Westies scored only 10 points in the second quarter and led just 29-24 at the intermission.
“No one was too excited after the game,” Eagan said. “After the first four or five games, we knew we would get in. We did a nice job getting that hurdle out of the way.
“We won but everybody was dejected after the game. We were 8 of 25 from the free throw line. It felt like we lost the game.”
The Westies turned to their defense in the second half. Allowing just 17 points in the final 16 minutes, West Haven extended the lead to 10 points entering the final quarter.
Farquharson came up big in the third quarter for the Westies as she scored seven points and Johnson added five more. Both Farquharson and Johnson each scored four points in the final quarter of the clinching victory.
“After our first two wins, I looked at the schedule and said maybe we can be 7-3,” Eagan said. “Here we are at 8-2.
“We have to keep winning and keep doing what we do. We want to give ourselves a shot at a home game in the SCC tournament and in the state tournament.”
Johnson led the way for the Westies with 21 points and five rebounds. Farquharson finished with 14 points and nine rebounds and Mattaway had 6 points, 7 assists and five rebounds.
Jill Johnson finished with 20 for the Indians and Gina Carbone finished with eight points.
Hamden beats Westies
Loss prevents Westies from clinching state tournament spot
By MIKE MADERA
(January 6, 2012) – It had all the makings of a special night. Gabby DeSisto returns to play at Hamden and the Westies had a chance to get back to the postseason with a victory.
DeSisto scored the first four West Haven points of the night and finished with eight but nothing else went right for the Westies. Scoring only 13 points in the first half and trailing by 17 at the half, West Haven fell to the Green Dragons 58-50.
“We scored thirteen points in the first half,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said after his team fell to 7-2. “That is a decent quarter. We were totally out of sync in the first half.
“We got ourselves in a 17-point hole. Our goal was to get it down to single digits in the fourth quarter. Even with that, down seventeen, it is hard to beat a bad team, let alone a good team.”
Despite DeSisto scoring West Haven’s first four points, the Westies scored only three more points in the quarter. West Haven did a nice job on Geraldin Cherubin, holding her to two points in the game, but others stepped up for the Green Dragons.
Morgan Rams finished with a game-high 21 points for Hamden and Sarah Shields had 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Zoe Fanolis also had three 3-pointers for Hamden and finished with 10 points.
“We held their big kid (Cherubin) to two points but their shooters killed us,” Eagan said. “Morgan Rams scored sixteen for them. She hurt us. We spent a lot of time stopping Cherubin and the other kids hurt us.”
Hamden led 15-7 after one quarter and followed with a nice effort against West Haven in the second quarter. West Haven managed just three fields from Rae Mattaway, Jayva Johnson and McKenzie Farquharson as the Green Dragons took a 30-13 lead to the half.
“We missed four breakaway layups,” Eagan said. “If you have those four layups and make five or six more free throws, we win the game.”
West Haven missed numerous inside shots and was really hurt at the free throw line. The Westies made just 9-of-20 free throws in the game.
“We were 9-of-20 from the free throw line,” Eagan said. “I told the girls the foul line would come back to haunt us. We did not make our free throws. Nine of twenty is unacceptable in Biddy Basketball.”
The Westies attempted to make a run in the third quarter, scoring 22 points. Despite the offensive output by the Westies, Hamden still led 45-35 after three quarters of play.
“We had a nice second half,” Eagan said. “We put ourselves in a hole which we never dug out of.”
Johnson and Farquharson tried to will the team back in the game in the third quarter. The quarter saw Johnson score nine points and Farquharson add six, while DeSisto scored four more points.
Johnson, who scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half, was controlled on the boards as she only pulled down two rebounds.
Johnson and Farquharson each scored six points in the final quarter but the deficit proved to be too much for the Westies to overcome.
“We had two great days of practice,” Eagan said. “We had a great game plan stopping their big girl but we missed our foul shot s and layups.”
Johnson led West Haven with 18 points. Farquharson added 14, and Mattaway finished with five.
Westies hang on to defeat Foran
By MIKE MADERA
MILFORD (January 3, 2012) – For years, West Haven head coach Jim Eagan has had a simple formula for success. That formula includes hitting easy shots, making free throws, taking care of the ball and playing solid defense.
None of the four was done well Tuesday evening in Milford. Fortunately for Eagan and his team, the Westies had just enough to hang on and defeat the Lions 44-42 at Foran High.
“We had no reason to win this game,” Eagan said after his team improved to 7-1. “I can put this speech on a recorder. You have to make your foul shots, make your easy shots and keep the turnovers at a reasonable number. We average twenty-nine turnovers a game. How we won I don’t know.
“We are awful shooting free throws. We do not protect the basketball. We get distracted with easy shots. We are fortunate to win this game.”
Trailing by two points at the half after Foran’s Jasmin Rodriquez hit a shot at the buzzer, West Haven opened the third quarter on a 13-0 run. Talisha Martinez gave West Haven the lead for good at 27-24 with a 3-pointer and McKenzie Farquharson and Jayva Johnson each added four points as the Westies took a 35-24 lead.
“We put the triangle and two in yesterday and spent an hour and fifteen minutes of a two hour practice on it,” Eagan said. “It won the game for us today.”
Behind Rodriquez who scored all seven of the Lions’ points in the third quarter, Foran trailed only 37-31 with eight minutes to play.
“To me, in this league, you scout people and take away their tendencies,” Foran coach Scott Nails said after his team fell to 3-5. “They did a good job with their triangle and two to stop Jasmin (Rodriquez). Alyssa Pucilli did a good job tonight hitting 3’s.
“But, we allowed Jayva Johnson all the put backs. This is the second straight year she has killed us. She killed us on the glass with twelve rebounds.”
Jayva Johnson was big for West Haven, especially in the second half with eight points. Johnson really hurt the Lions with 12 rebounds in the game.
Johnson’s basket early in the fourth quarter gave West Haven a 40-33 lead. Farquharson and Martinez followed with baskets to increase the lead to 44-38 with four minutes to go but West Haven never scored again.
“We miss too many easy shots,” Eagan said.
A basket by Foran’s Teneya McLaughlin with 1:26 remaining and another by Maggie Folsom 22 seconds later had the Lions within two points. West Haven went into a stall and after Johnson missed a free throw with eleven seconds remaining, Foran had one last chance.
The Lions never capitalized. Mykelle Coleman came up with a steal in the final two seconds to secure the win for West Haven.
“If someone walked in and came into the locker room, they would say what did you get beat by?,” Eagan said. “I am happy with that. Because the girls are upset in there knowing they did not play well.
“Sometimes you have to be lucky to win games. Good teams find ways to win. They are a well coached team. We have to get better.”
Foran jumped out to an early lead and took a 15-11 advantage after one quarter of play. Paced by Pucilli’s eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, Foran led by four after Pucilli drained a basket with two seconds to go in the opening quarter.
McLaughlin and Rodriquez combined for all nine of the Lion points in the second quarter, with a buzzer beater by Rodriquez giving the Lions a 24-22 halftime lead. Foran was hurt at the free throw line as the Lions hit just 2-of-8 shots in the second quarter.
Rodriquez led all scorers with 16 points for the Lions. Pucilli added 11 ands McLaughlin had seven in the loss.
Johnson was West Haven’s leading scorer with 13 points, Farquharson scored 11 and Martinez scored six in the win.
Westies hold off East Haven
Farquharson, Johnson lead the way
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (December 30, 2011) – With a week off after suffering its initial loss of the season to Mercy, the West Haven girls’ basketball team could have gone one of two ways. The Westies could have dwelled on the loss or they could have used it as motivation.
The Westies chose the latter. Behind 19 points apiece from McKenzie Farquharson and Jayva Johnson, the Westies held off a late East Haven rally and posted a 63-52 victory at West Haven High Friday afternoon.
“We had two choices,” Farquharson said. “We could have come out flat or we could have come out strong. We had three really good days of practice. We came to play. We took our anger from the Mercy loss out on East Haven.”
The Westies looked as if they would roll to an easy victory when Gabby DeSisto’s basket with 4 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter gave West Haven a 38-22 lead. East Haven’s pressure defense proved otherwise.
The Yellow Jackets cut the deficit to six points when Amanda Jessey scored with 1:15 remaining in the quarter. With the momentum on East Haven’s side, the Westies regrouped and extended the lead to 52-41 on a Johnson basket with 5:20 remaining in the game.
“Our defense was not as strong in the second half,” Farquharson said. “We picked up our offense. We had to play to their defense.”
East Haven continued to chip away and again cut the deficit to six, 54-48, on a pair of Amanda Bradley free throws with 1:29 remaining. West Haven iced the game from the free throw line, hitting 9-of-10 free throws in the final 1:15, including Johnson hitting all four to seal the victory.
“We were able to hit our foul shots down the stretch,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said after his team improved to 6-1. “That was big.
“I just told the team a lot of teams would like to be 6-1 right now. There is nobody we can’t beat on our schedule and nobody which can’t beat us.”
The Westies started out strong, taking a 16-6 lead after one quarter of play. West Haven closed the period on a 10-2 run, with Farquharson scoring the last five points, including a 3-pointer to give West Haven the 10-point lead heading into the second quarter.
DeSisto, who got her first West Haven start, gave West Haven a 22-8 lead in the second quarter with two straight baskets. Johnson’s basket and free throw with 1:57 remaining in the half gave West Haven a 27-11 lead.
“This feels real good,” Johnson said of the team’s sixth win. “We have not made it (state tournament) in a few years.”
East Haven came out of the half on a 7-3 run before DeSisto’s basket gave West Haven a 38-22 lead. The two teams combined for 39 points in the quarter.
“I thought Rae Mattaway had a great second half,” Eagan said. “We were up sixteen and it felt like we let up. We have to realize the other team is here to play too.
“The good thing about this team is when they cut it to six we kept our composure. Last year we lose this game. We took a deep breath and were able to knock down some shots.”
Mattaway finished the game with eight assists and two steals, Farquharson had seven rebounds and Johnson had six rebounds and two steals. Mykelle Coleman also played well with six steals, four assists and two rebounds.
Bradley led East Haven with 16 points, Danielle Polvan had 14 and Jessey added 11.
Turnovers sink Westies in showdown with Mercy
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (December 22, 2011) – The West Haven girls’ basketball team entered Thursday evening’s showdown with Mercy looking to prove they belonged with the top teams in the Southern Connecticut Conference. While the Westies gave Mercy all the Tigers could handle, the Westies are still climbing the ladder.
Turning the ball over 28 times in the game, missing numerous inside baskets and not taking advantage of their opportunities, the Westies fell to Mercy 53-47 in front of a boisterous crowd at West Haven High.
“This was a winnable game,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said after his team fell to 5-1 on the season. “We had twenty-eight turnovers caused by the press. Twenty-eight times we had the ball and said we don’t want to score. That’s the difference in the game.
“The bottom line is you don’t beat bad basketball teams with twenty-eight turnovers. We were right there. We played hard. That is a given. But, to have that many turnovers and be up two points late is a tough one to lose.”
Despite the turnovers, West Haven was in position to win the game when baskets by McKenzie Farquharson and Jayva Johnson keyed a 6-0 run to give the Westies a 47-45 lead with 2 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the game. The Westies never scored again.
Maria Weselyj’s basket with 1:56 remaining gave the Tigers a 49-47 lead and Mercy never looked back. Rae Mattaway turned the ball over with 1:40 to go and Talisha Martinez missed a 3-pointer 12 seconds later.
The Tigers (5-0) sank four of six free throws in the final 63 seconds to remain undefeated at 5-0. Sheena Landy and Weselyj, who finished the game with 21 points, ended any hopes of a West Haven comeback at the free throw line.
“We turned the ball over too many times,” Farquharson said. “I felt we had our chances.”
Mercy did a nice job on West Haven’s three big players, holding the trio of Farquharson, Gabby DeSisto and Savannah Brown to 18 points. Farquharson had 14 of those points.
"We did not look inside enough,” Eagan said. “We are a poor interior passing team right now. We were an awful rebounding team tonight. We have to definitely rebound better if we want to win these types of games.”
The Westies were in chase mode from the start of the game as Mercy opened the first quarter with a 15-5 lead, keyed by a pair of 3-pointers from Jordyn Nappi. A 6-1 run by West Haven closed the quarter with the Westies trailing 16-11.
“It was 15-5 and I had to relax them,” Eagan said of the team’s start to the game. “I think we came out too hyped up. We knew what was at stake. We were playing for pride tonight.”
The Westies opened the second quarter on a 9-4 run, highlighted by baskets from Rae Mattaway, and Johnson and a 3-pointer by Martinez. Mykelle Coleman got the Westies within 27-26 in the final seconds but a West Haven turnover with two seconds remaining in the half was followed with a bucket by Landy at the buzzer to give Mercy a 29-26 lead at the half.
Mercy opened the third quarter scoring five of the first six points beforeWest Haven went on a 9-0 run. Baskets by Mattaway, Johnson and Martinezevened the game and Farquharson’s bucket gave West Haven a 36-34 lead with 2:17 remaining in the quarter.
Farquharson’s 3-pointer 1:16 into the fourth quarter gave the Westies a 41-39 lead but Mercy went on a 6-0 run to force the final thrilling minutes.
Johnson finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the game, while Mattaway added seven points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals.
Nappi scored 11 points for the Tigers and Liz Falcigno added 10.
High and Low Fives
Westies improve to 5-0 with win over Shelton
By MIKE MADERA
(Special thanks to Katie Hoyt who contributed to this story)
(December 20, 2011) – The goal for the West Haven girls’ basketball team since the beginning of the preseason has been to get back to the postseason. Through five games, the Westies are trying to achieve this goal quickly.
Led by Jayva Johnson’s 22 points and 12 more from McKenzie Farquharson, the Westies overcame a sluggish start and an early deficit on the road to defeat Shelton 52-36. With the victory, West Haven improved to 5-0 and set up Thursday evening’s showdown with undefeated Mercy.
“The one thing is we slept walked through the first half,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “We are not at the stage where we can walk into a gym and just show up and win. It was a game we very easily could have lost.
“We did not come ready to play. It is the first time all year I can say that. It is unacceptable. If we play like we did in the first half the rest of the year, we will go one and fourteen with that effort. I hope it was a wake up call.”
Trailing 22-18 at the half, Johnson took over. The Westie guard scored 12 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer to end the quarter, giving West Haven a 33-28 lead. Gabby DeStito, who scored eight points in the game, and Farquharson took care of the rest, combining for 14 of the team’s 19 fourth quarter points.
“She played well in the third quarter,” Eagan said of Johnson.
Trailing by four points to start the second half, Johnson set the tone when her basket and free throw following a foul brought West Haven within 22-21. Following a Shelton basket, Johnson hit one of two free throws before Savannah Brown’s basket and free throw gave West Haven a 25-24 lead.
Trailing 28-26, Johnson evened the game with a basket then put the Westies ahead to stay with a pair of free throws. Johnson’s 3-pointer sent West Haven to the final eight minutes with a 33-28 lead.
“I thought that 3-pointer was big,” Eagan said. “It gave us a little breathing room as we entered the fourth quarter.”
After Shelton cut the deficit to two points once again, Farquharson hit the next two West Haven baskets to give the Westies a 37-31 lead. DeStito increased the lead to 39-33 and after Shelton got within 39-36, DeStito scored the next six points for a 45-36 lead, putting the game away.
“Gabby DeStito came up huge in the fourth quarter,” Eagan said. “She made her West Haven mark. She had a huge fourth quarter.”
West Haven iced the game down the stretch at the free throw line with Rae Mattaway, Johnson and Farquharson combining to sink five of six free throws.
“We are picking and choosing our spots where we use our 1-3-1 trap,” Eagan said. “We are using it sporadically. We used it in the fourth quarter. When the opponents are fatigued, that is the key to getting turnovers with that. We did well down the stretch. We were able to hit our free throws in the fourth quarter.
Shelton jumped out to a 4-0 lead to start the game and held West Haven to just eight first quarter points. After Mattaway (7 points) evened the game at four with the first four West Haven points, Shelton ended the opening quarter on a 9-4 run.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Eagan said. “We were dreadful in the first half and we played our defense and transition basketball in the second half.”
Shelton extended the lead to 15-10 in the second quarter before baskets by Mattaway, Johnson and Farquharson evened the game at 16. Single free throws by Johnson cut the deficit to 19-18 but Shelton went to the half up four points.
A Perfect Hand
Westies improve to 4-0 with win over Tigers
By MIKE MADERA
(Special thanks to Katie Hoyt who contributed to this story)
(December 15, 2011) – After winning three games at home to start the regular season, the West Haven girls’ basketball team would face its first road test Thursday evening in Madison. Traveling to play the Tigers, the Westies were going to be challenged.
Consider that test passed with flying colors. Holding the Tigers to just six points in the fourth quarter, West Haven turned a close game into a runaway and defeated the Tigers 60-41 to improve to 4-0 on the year.
“I told the girls 4-0 is better than 3-1, 2-2, 1-3 and 0-4,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “You can’t do better than that.”
Led by Jayva Johnson with 20 points and McKenzie Farquharson and Rae Mattaway with 15 each, the Westies remained perfect on the season. Johnson also had nine rebounds, three steals and a pair of 3-pointers.
Jayva Johnson, seen here against North Haven, continued her torrid start to the season with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals in a win over Hand. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Johnson and Mattaway were the keys in the opening quarter as each scored six points to help the Westies to an 18-9 lead. The Westies, on Johnson’s six points and four by Mattaway, went on a 12-0 run to take a 14-2 lead.
That run proved to be huge as Farquharson picked up her second foul early and was forced to sit for most of the second quarter. With Farquharson on the bench, West Haven scored only six points, including a late 3-pointer by Farquharson, to hang on to a slim 24-19 lead at the half.
“We could have put the game out of reach,” Eagan said. “McKenzie picked up her second foul and had to sit out most of the second quarter. We were out of sync when she came out of the game.”
The Tigers carried the momentum of the second quarter over to the third quarter when they cut the West Haven lead to 36-35. A pair of baskets by Mattaway sandwiched another by Johnson for a 30-21 West Haven lead.
With the Westies leading by two points, Farquharson’s basket increased the lead to 34-26. The Tigers took the lead on a 9-0 run but Farquharson gave West Haven the lead with a basket to end the quarter.
The Tigers forced the last tie of the game at 38 before baskets by Savannah Brown and Mattaway increased the lead to 42-38. When Mattaway sank a basket and hit a free throw and Johnson followed with a 3-pointer, West Haven led 48-38.
West Haven dominated the fourth quarter and held the Tigers to just six points. The 24-6 run in the final eight minutes was too much for the Tigers to overcome.
“I stress defense to the kids and how we need to play it,” Eagan said. “We take pride in it. If we can score in the sixty point range and hold teams in the low forties, we will win some games. That’s pretty good. We can’t put pressure on ourselves every time down the court.
“Our 1-3-1 trap was tremendous. We will pick and choose the situations we use it in. We used it fifteen times and got ten turnovers. We forced some of their shots.”
Despite connecting on 7-of-10 free throws and remaining perfect on the season, Eagan and the Westies know there are things to correct, namely the turnovers in which West Haven committed 17 in the first half and dropped the number to seven in the second half.
Mattaway added to her 15 points with 11 assists, five rebounds and three steals. Mykelle Coleman added six rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Gabby Destito finished with six rebounds.
Kelsey Cuddy led thje Tigers with 11 points.
Westies off to 3-0 start after win over Guilford
By MIKE MADERA
(Special thanks to Katie Hoyt who contributed to this story)(December 13, 2011) – West Haven coach Jim Eagan constantly says defense wins games. He also says rebounding is all about heart.
If that is the case, Eagan’s team has plenty of that heart. With four players combining to pull down 31 rebounds, the Westies overcame a third quarter deficit and defeated Guilford 58-51 at West Haven High Tuesday evening.
With the victory, West Haven opened the season 3-0, with all three games played at home.
“I can teach you the basics of shooting,” Eagan said. “But, rebounding is about positioning. It is about heart. Everybody can rebound. You have to want the ball.”
McKenzie Farquharson, Jayva Johnson, Rae Mattaway and new Westie player Gabby Desisto, a former Hamden High star, allowed the Westies to control the boards and run the offense. Johnson led the way with 11 rebounds, Mattaway had eight and Desisto grabbed seven as Guilford could not get any second chance points.
“The rebounding was the key,” Eagan said. “We never gave Guilford any second shots. That got us down the court and running our offense.
“We talked about our schedule. We knew we had three games at home and we had to take advantage of it. It’s a great start but when we go to Hand on Thursday, it means nothing.”
Behind the shooting of Farquharson, West Haven took a 17-12 lead after one quarter. Farquharson scored eight points in the quarter as West Haven overcame a 9-3 deficit.
A pair of three-point plays by Farquharson gave West Haven an 11-9 lead and Johnson followed with a basket to increase the lead to 13-9. Baskets by Mattaway and Talisha Martinez closed the quarter with West Haven leading by five.
McKenzie Farquharson (seen here in the season opener against North Haven) scored 22 points, including four free throws to seal the game, as West Haven defeated Guilford 58-51, December 13, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“I thought we came back well,” Eagan said.
Johnson surrounded a pair of baskets around a Farquharson bucket for a 23-21 lead. Desisto closed the half with a basket for a 29-23 West Haven advantage.
“I was happy with the fact we played a good man to man defense,” Eagan said of the first half. “I was not happy with our zone defense. We have to get everyone on the same page with that. Whatever five are on the court need to know everything we do. I like the versatility and depth of this team.”
Savannah Brown’s basket started the second half and gave West Haven a 31-23 advantage but the Indians were not done. Guilford chipped away and went on a 9-0 run to take a 38-37 lead late in the quarter.
Farquharson stopped the bleeding with a basket for a 39-38 lead then added another for a 41-40 lead. That lead was short-lived as a Westie turnover led to an Indian basket and a 42-41 Guilford advantage after three quarters of play.
“We wanted the last shot,” Eagan said of the end of the third quarter. “We turn the ball over and they go up one. I just told the girls we were in our house and every possession was going to be key.”
West Haven responded in fine fashion. Behind Johnson’s five points and two more from Desisto, West Haven opened the final quarter on a 7-0 run and never looked back.
Mattaway twice sank single free throws to give West Haven a 52-49 lead before Johnson did the same to extend the lead to 54-51. Johnson’s last free throw started a 5-0 run to end the game, capped by four straight Farquharson free throws to seal the victory.
Farquharson led the Westies with 22 points, while Johnson had her third straight game in double digits with 15 points. Brown finished with 7 points and Desisto added six in her first game with the Westies.
Mattaway also played well with nine assists and seven steals. Brown added four steals in the victory.
Defense the key to victory over Amity
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (December 9, 2011) – For the second straight game to open the season, the West Haven girls’ basketball team showed how important defensive play is. Struggling to hit from the field in the first half and hitting only half of its free throws, West Haven trailed Amity by eight points with five minutes remaining in the half.
The defense then took over. The Westies held Amity to just one point in the final five minutes of the half, stopping Amity from scoring on 11 of its last 12 possessions.
A basket by senior McKenzie Farquharson gave West Haven a 19-18 lead with 2 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first half and West Haven never trailed again in a 42-35 victory over the Spartans Friday evening at West Haven High.
“Defense wins games,” Farquharson said. “Offense sells tickets. We work on defense an hour and a half each practice. We practice defense as much as we can.”
Amity tied the game four more times but never took the lead. West Haven took the lead for good in the third quarter when Jayva Johnson drained a 3-pointer for a 29-26 lead.
Ava Gambardella followed with a basket to increase the lead to 31-27 and, after Amity’s Amanda Vecchio cut the deficit to 31-29 with a pair of free throws, Johnson’s 3-pointer with 1:20 left in the third quarter gave West Haven a 34-29 advantage.
“Jayva is one of the most athletic kids I have ever coached,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said of Johnson after the junior scored 14 points. “She is just so smooth.”
Amity was held to just three field goals in each of the final two quarters. It was the season opener for a young Amity team.
“West Haven played a great game,” Amity coach Michelle Martinik said. “We came at them hard. They had some great moves inside.
“We lost a lot of close games last year. It is something we will continue to work on. They hit their foul shots at the end.”
Despite only six field goals in the final 16 minutes, Amity hung around. After another 3-pointer by Johnson gave West Haven a 37-29 lead one minute into the fourth quarter, Amity came back.
A basket by Mikaila Schmitt got the Spartans within 37-31 with 4:46 remaining and Jessica Malinconico cut the deficit to 37-33 a short time later. Amity could not convert three free throws and still had a chance to get within two points.
With 1:39 remaining in the game, Johnson’s steal and basket gave West Haven a 39-33 lead. Amity cut the deficit to four but West Haven hit three free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“There were some good and bad,” Martinik said. “There were a lot of positives and a lot of negatives. There are things we will go home and work on. We will get better by the next game.”
Eagan was pleased his team found a way to win.
“The entire team won this game,” Eagan said after his team improved to 2-0. “This was a huge win. We started 2-0 last year but that only means we need six more (to qualify for the state tournament).”
The game started heavily in Amity’s favor as the Spartans took a 12-6 lead after one quarter. The Westies missed six free throws in the first quarter and could not find a rhythm on offense, shooting only 26% (6-of-23) from the field in the first 16 minutes.
Amity took advantage as baskets by Tabitha Brown and Malinconico gave the Spartans a 5-2 lead. A 3-pointer by Sarah Tashea gave Amity an 8-3 lead before two free throws by Schmitt increased the advantage to 10-3.
Vecchio’s basket gave Amity an 18-10 lead in the second quarter before West Haven started its comeback on a basket and free throw by Talisha Martinez.
Farquharson led West Haven with 15 points and four rebounds. Johnson added 10 rebounds and Savannah Brown had five rebounds for West Haven.
Chloe Brinton and Schmitt led Amity with six points each. Tashea, Brown and Vecchio each finished with five points in the loss for Amity.
Johnson Leads Westies in Season Opener
Junior scores 27 points in victory over North Haven
By MIKE MADERA
(Special thanks to Katie Hoyt who contributed to this story)
WEST HAVEN (December 7, 2011) – Before the regular season began, West Haven coach Jim Eagan knew there were several key factors for his basketball team to be successful. Two of those keys were playing solid defense and getting offensive help for McKenzie Farquharson.
Things could not have gone any better for Eagan and his squad Wednesday evening in the season opener against North Haven. Holding the Indians to just 10 points in the second half and riding the offensive performance of Jayva Johnson, the Westies defeated the Indians 61-32 at West Haven High.
“They are a young team,” Eagan said of North Haven. “Our half court trap won the game for us in the first six minutes. Jayva had thirteen in the first quarter. We got off to a quick start.”
Johnson was in control from the start as she scored 17 points in the first half, including 13 in the first quarter when the Westies took a 23-12 lead after eight minutes of play. Johnson took control early as she scored West Haven’s first nine points to help the Westies to an 11-4 lead.
Savannah Brown also was involved early as her steal following a Johnson 3-pointer led to another Johnson basket and a 5-2 lead. Brown’s basket increased West Haven’s advantage to 13-4 before a bucket by Farquharson increased the advantage to 17-4.
“It was great to get off to a quick start,” Eagan said. “We need to put wins on the board. We were at home and we got a convincing win. That was important to me.”
Leading to start the second quarter, single free throws by Farquharson and Brown sandwiched a basket by Johnson for a 27-18 West Haven advantage. Talisha Martinez followed with a 3-pointer and single free throws by Rae Mattaway and Farquharson increased the advantage to 32-20.
When Johnson hit her basket and Martinez followed with a pair of free throws, West Haven had a 36-20 lead at the half. The Westies would never look back.
The Westies put the game away in the third quarter. Behind a solid defensive effort and a 12-3 run which extended the lead to 48-25, any hopes of a North Haven comeback were ended.
Brown, who finished the game with 12 points, started the third quarter with the first five points and Johnson added the final seven. With the play of Johnson and Brown in the third quarter, West Haven needed just another eight minutes of solid play to secure its first victory of the season.
“Our 1-3-1 zone is going to be good for us,” Eagan said. “We spend a lot of time on defense.”
Farquharson doubled West Haven’s lead to start the fourth quarter and Brown and Mattaway added baskets for a 54-28 lead. Johnson knocked in a 3-pointer for her final points of the night and Martinez scored the final four points as West Haven won by 29 points.
Martinez finished the game with 11 points and four rebounds, while Brown added nine rebounds and five steals. Johnson also had eight rebounds and four steals as Farquharson, Johnson, Mattaway and Brown combined for 16 steals.
Farquharson added seven rebounds to go along with six points and Mattaway finished with five points and seven assists.
Back Where They Belong
Westies looking for return to postseason
By MIKE MADERA
The goal is simple. After falling a game short of the state tournament last season and having not made the tournament in three straight years, the West Haven girls’ basketball team is looking to get back to the postseason.
That goal nearly came a year earlier but the Westies finished last season at 7-13, allowing some winnable games to slip away. This season, the Westies hope to be different.
If West Haven is to play in its first state tournament in four years, it will have to do so by overcoming an early season injury to junior Katie Hoyt and will need to ride the play of senior star McKenzie Farquharson.
Hoyt will miss the first handful of games as she continues her comeback from off season shoulder surgery. The absence of Hoyt changes the dynamic of the team and also takes a big scoring threat away, especially from three-point range.
Hoyt, who has been practicing in non-contact drills, has looked good early on according to coach Jim Eagan. Without Hoyt, the guard rotation changes as junior Mykelle Coleman is expected to run the point.
“Mykelle is playing nervous right now,” Eagan said. “She needs to let her instincts take over and relax. I think she will do that.”
Senior guard Rae Mattaway will also play a big role. When Hoyt returns, Mattaway will take over the point, moving Hoyt to the shooting guard position.
While the Westies have questions at guard as the season opens, the key to the offense is Farquharson. Called one of the top five players in the conference by Eagan, Farquharson will be West Haven’s number one option. Tall, strong and quick to the basket, Farquharson will need to take over games as she has done in the past for West Haven to be successful.
Seen here last season against Shelton, McKenzie Farquharson (25) will play a big role in the success of the 2011-2012 Westies. Photo courtesy of WHHS.
“McKenzie will be our number one option on offense,” Eagan said. “She is one of the best players in the league and conference. She can be a nightmare for other teams.
“She can beat you down low. She can drive by you. She can beat you in so many ways. McKenzie has improved her game at the foul line. It would not surprise me if she scored over twenty points a game.”
Expecting Farquharson to see plenty of defenses geared toward stopping her, Eagan knows it is important for others to step up. Juniors Jayva Johnson and Savannah Brown will play big roles on the team as well, with Johnson contributing from the guard position and Brown at center.
Eagan also knows his team needs to be quick getting the ball down the court. Looking to run the offense and thwart opposing defenses, quickness is going to be a key.
“Every team has one go to player,” Eagan said of Farquharson. “We will try to post her up, clear the wings and do what we can.
“We will look to clear it out for Jayva Johnson. Until Katie Hoyt comes back, we are hurting from the perimeter. It is very important we get the ball down the court as quickly as we can.”
Eagan will also rely on three sophomores off the bench to play a big role on the team. Ava Gambardella will play a big role at the post, while Tory Lavery and Maggie Borer will make an impact on the perimeter.
The Westies can have plenty of offense but a key on any Eagan team is defense. Recognizing there are off nights shooting, Eagan preaches tough defense on a daily basis to be successful.
“We introduced a 1-3-1, half court trap,” Eagan said. “It has been successful. I like it. When we push it up the court, good things happen. We have to push it before the defense gets situated.
“We have to stay healthy and do a better job defending the ball. Defense has to be there every night, Offense is fleeting. You can score as many points as you like but if you don’t play defense you are going to get beat. We have to be good defensively all year.”
With Farquharson on the inside, the return of Hoyt on the outside, and the play of the guards, Eagan feels his team can not only contend to play in the state tournament but can battle for a division title.
“We want to compete for a league title,” Eagan said. “There is no reason we can’t compete for a league title. We can not take anyone lightly. We need to play hard, intense basketball. When Katie Hoyt comes back and adds her three-point shot, we will be a more complete team.”
West Haven opens the season at home with the season opener against North Haven, Wednesday, December 7, followed by a home contest against Amity two nights later against Amity. Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
2011 - 2012 Junior Varsity
West Haven snaps three-game losing skid with 44-22 victory over Shelton
Tory Lavery led the way with 18 points and Maggie Borer scored 12 as the Westies got back in the winning column.
Westies suffer third straight loss in 47-35 setback against Hand
The Westies fell to the Tigers by 12 points, but Amanda Martino led the way with 13.
Guilford defeats Westies 44-38.
In West Haven's second consecutive loss, Amanda Martino scored 14 points and Tory Lavery added nine.
Westies fall to Amity 35-31
In a loss to Amity, Tory Lavery led the way with 11 points. Ava Gambardella, Cheyenne Rogers and Amanda Martino each scored five points in the loss.
Westies open season with 48-40 victory over North Haven
Tory Lavery led the Westies with 16 points in the season-opening victory. Amanda Martino scored 11 points and Maggie Borer scored 10 for the Westies.
GIRLS BASKETBALL 2011-2012
Westies thumped by Manchester to end season
By MIKE MADERA
MANCHESTER (March 1, 2012) – After surviving in double overtime of the opening round of the CIAC Class LL state tournament, the West Havengirls’ basketball team hoped to make things a little less dramatic in the second round against Manchester. Unfortunately for West Haven, all the drama of the contest was taken away in the second quarter.
Paced by runs of 10-0 and 15-0 in the first half, the sixth-seeded Indians broke open a close game and rolled to a 56-34 victory over the Westies in the second round at Manchester High. No. 11 West Haven ended the season 17-6.
“We had twenty turnovers in the first half,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “They are quick and we had too many people not wanting the ball. That put a lot of pressure on Rae (Mattaway).
“The two runs were the game. When we had them in a set offense, we were fine. But, then it went turnover, steal, easy layup. Those are gifts.”
The Westies scored the first three points of the game on a free throw by McKenzie Farquharson and a rebound and basket by Savannah Brown. That was the last time West Haven saw the lead.
Using a pressure defense and causing numerous West Haven turnovers, 20 in the first half alone, Manchester went on a 10-0 run. Ashley Perez and Miofania Garcia each had four points in the run as the Indians started to take control of the game.
A basket by Jayva Johnson and a free throw by Farquharson cut the deficit to 10-6 but West Haven never got closer.
Farquharson leads double overtime victory
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (February 27, 2012) –After not playing in the postseason her first three years and losing to Foran in the opening round of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament this season, there was no way West Haven senior captain McKenzie Farquharson was going to let her team lose in the opening round of the state tournament against Newington.
Scoring four of her team’s eight points in the second overtime and finishing with 23 points, including the 1,000th of her career, Farquharson helped her team defeat the Indians 53-48 in double overtime of the opening round of the CIAC Class LL state tournament. Farquharson also grabbed 11 rebounds in a game which nearly escaped West Haven’s grasp.
West Haven will travel to play No. 6 Manchester Thursday evening at 7 p.m.
“This is awesome,” Farquharson said after her team improved to 17-5. “I played in the states in soccer but never got by the first round. This is a great feeling.”
No. 11 West Haven was 12 seconds away from winning the game in regulation when Jayva Johnson hit a pair of free throws to give the Westies a 45-43 lead. The Indians, the 22nd seed, forced the overtime when sophomore Kayla Guest hit a runner at the buzzer to force overtime.
Both teams were tentative in the first overtime and it appeared neither team wanted to win as each committed numerous turnovers. West Haven had the best chance to win in the first overtime but Rae Mattaway missed both free throws, something which plagued the Westies all game as the team hit only 10-of-25 free throws.
Read the rest of this article in the Milford-Orange Bulletin here
Westies ousted from SCC Tournament
Foran sends WH home early in 1st round upset
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (February 16, 2012) – There’s an old saying in high school sports stating it is hard to beat a team three times in one season. The West Haven girls’ basketball team found that out Thursday evening in the opening round of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament.
Having fallen to West Haven twice during the regular season, the No. 13 Lions used patience and the hot hands of Kelly Quinn, Teneya Mclaughlin, Jasmin Rodriquez and Maggie Folsom to upset fourth-seeded West Haven 66-59 at West Haven High.
“The bottom line is a lot of people are going to pack it in on Jasmin (Rodriquez),” Foran coach Scott Nails said after his team improved to 10-11 and will play fifth-seeded Cheshire in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at 1:45 p.m. at Sheehan High. “The first game we played them we lost by two and we did not shoot well. The second time they beat us pretty good. I felt we had good looks in those games but the shots did not fall.
“I said to the girls we need to be a little more patient. Instead of making one or two passes, maybe we make five or six and get some good looks.”
The Lions set the tone right from the opening tip as Quinn nailed a 3-pointer and Folsom connected on a pair of baskets for a 7-0 lead. Quinn scored eight points in the opening quarter as the Lions never trailed in the game.
West Haven did not help its own cause as the Westies were dismal inside, missing 16 shots underneath. Coach Jim Eagan knew how big those misses were after the game.
“If we make half of those shots, we win the game,” Eagan said after his team saw its six-game winning streak snapped and fell to 16-5. “You have to give them (Foran) credit. They shot lights out tonight. They were the hottest shooting team we faced all year.
“We are sitting there with our mouths wide open when those shots don’t fall. We have to make those easy shots.”
The Westies had a hard time containing Rodriquez in the first half as the senior scored all 14 of her points in the first 16 minutes. Two baskets by Rodriquez keyed a 5-0 run which gave the Lions a 31-19 lead and let everyone know the Lions were there to win.
Two baskets by Gabby DeSisto keyed a 6-2 West Haven run to cut the deficit to 33-25, but Rodriquez hit a jumper as the half came to a close to send the Lions to the break with a 38-28 lead.
“You have to credit the kids,” Nails said. “They believed in themselves. We are the 13 seed. We are supposed to just be happy to be here. We had nothing to lose. The records in the regular season do not mean anything. If we play them ten times, maybe we beat them once. Tonight was our one time.”
The Lions knew West Haven would come out swinging in the second half but had an answer. A 3-pointer by Quinn and a bucket by Mclaughlin put the Lions in front 48-31.
West Haven then had its run. A 10-0 run, sparked by six points from McKenzie Farquharson and four more from Jayva Johnson had the Westies within 48-41.
West Haven’s Achilles heel then bit the team as the Westies had three separate chances to cut the deficit further and missed three consecutive baskets underneath.
“We just didn’t make our shots,” Eagan said. “We had shots we wanted but they didn’t fall.”
With all the momentum on the side of West Haven, Foran erased it all in a matter of seconds. Folsom scored with 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter and Danielle Kemp drained a basket at the buzzer to give Foran a 52-43 lead after three quarters.
West Haven had numerous chances in the fourth quarter to make the contest a two-possession game, but missed shots and free throws did not allow the Westies to do so.
“It’s been our problem all year, easy shots and free throws,” Eagan said. “We have to make those shots. You can’t argue with the shots. They didn’t fall. Foran shot unbelievable. 59 points is more than enough to win a game.”
Quinn led Foran with 19 points, while Rodriquez had 14, Mclaughlin 13 and Folsom 12.
Farquharson finished with 22 points, leaving her five points shy of 1,000 for her career. Johnson added 20 points and DeSisto had 8 in the loss.
Westies close regular season with win over Amity
By MIKE MADERA
WOODBRIDGE (February 13, 2012) – The motto lives on for the West Haven girls’ basketball team. Since suffering its fourth loss of the season at Mercy, the Westies developed a “Refuse to Lose” slogan.
Knowing 16 wins would probably get the team a pair of home games in the state tournament, the Westies reached the magic number Monday evening when they defeated Amity 51-38 on Senior Night at Amity.
“I have no complaints,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said after his team improved to 16-4. “This team has won more this year than they have in the last three years.”
Led by a balanced scoring attack which saw Jayva Johnson (19 points), McKenzie Farquharson (13) and Gabby DeSisto (10) score in double figures, the Westies held off a late flurry by the Spartans in the final minutes to post the victory.
“This is a big win for us,” DeSisto said after scoring 10 points. “We made it a goal not to lose to any other team.
“This means a lot to me. I have never been on a team as good as this. This team works very hard in practice and this means a lot to us. We want to make some noise in the SCC’s and go as far as we can in the state tournament.”
West Haven, who will host Foran Thursday evening in the opening round of the Southern Connecticut Conference, led since Farquharson gave the team a 9-8 lead to end the first quarter but the Westies needed to hang on late in the game. West Haven led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter on a Farquharson bucket, but Amity’s press forced numerous West Haven turnovers in the closing minutes.
“We did an awful job at the end with their press,” Eagan said. “They gave us trouble at the end.”
Consecutive baskets by Amity’s Chloe Brinton got the Spartans within 43-36 with 1 minute, 14 seconds remaining. The Westies were clutch at the free throw line as both Johnson and Farquharson hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 47-36 with 50 seconds remaining.
“This shows the true heart of this team,” Amity coach Michelle Martinik said after her team fell to 11-9. “They rallied around the seniors. We pushed to the end.”
The Westies took advantage of 14 first half turnovers by the Spartans and runs of 8-0 and 6-0 to take a 25-15 halftime lead. Johnson had things going her way in the first half as she scored 11 points, while Farquharson and DeSisto each scored six in the first 16 minutes.
“I told Gabby (DeSisto) she was going to have a big game for us tonight,” Eagan said. “She was big tonight.”
West Haven’s defensive play also played a big part in the opening half, forcing 10 turnovers in the second quarter and holding Amity to 6-of-19 shooting in the opening half.
“I thought we got off to a slow start,” Martinik said. “West Haven came out strong but we were able to come back in the second half.”
The Westies jumped out to a 4-0 lead on baskets from Savannah Brown and Farquharson before Jessica Malinconico answered with a basket and free throw. A free throw and basket by Amity’s Mikaila Schmitt and another bucket by Tabitha Brown had the Spartans in front 8-7.
The Westies answered with an 8-0 run to take a 15-8 lead as both Farquharson and Johnson each scored four points. After a basket and free throw by Brown cut West Haven’s lead to 17-12, the Westies used a basket by DeSisto and four points from Johnson to take a 23-13 lead.
Schmitt led Amity with 16 points. Johnson added 11 rebounds and five steals while Farquharson had five assists and four rebounds.
Westies win fifth in row
By MIKE MADERA
(February 9, 2012) – The “Refuse to Lose” attitude continues for the West Haven girls’ basketball team. Looking to run the table and finish the regular season with 16 wins, the Westies came within one game of reaching their goal as West Haven defeated Guilford 53-33 at Guilford High Thursday evening.
The win, which saw three players score in double figures, allowed West Haven to improve to 15-4 with only the regular season finale at Amity remaining Monday evening.
“We came up with “Refuse to Lose” with six games to go,” assistant coach Bob Forbes said. “We wanted to run the table and finish the year 16-4. We wanted a first round home game in the SCC tournament and possibly two home games in the state tournament. 15-5 will get you one home game and sixteen wins possibly gives you two.
“The win was big. The key is to win out for the home games and it is also big for the confidence of the kids.”
Jayva Johnson led the Westies with 18 points, 15 rebounds and two assists. McKenzie Farquharson also played well with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Talisha Martinez had 13 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Farquharson and Martinez were the keys to West Haven’s quick start in which the Westies took a 21-8 lead after the first quarter. Martinez started the game with a 3-pointer and hit a basket, setting the stage for Farquharson’s nine points in the quarter.
“Talisha jump-started the team,” Forbes said. “She hit a 3, then hit a basket. Her baskets allowed everyone else to settle down. She was the catalyst to the start. McKenzie also came up pretty big.”
The Westies continued the flow on offense, taking advantage of Guilford’s zone defense. West Haven’s zone offense put up 21 points in the opening quarter and the Westies adjusted to Guilford’s defensive change in the second quarter with 13 points for a 34-14 halftime lead.
Johnson led the way in the quarter with nine points and Martinez had four points.
“We were up 20 at the half, 34-14,” Forbes said. “We were up twenty but we still needed to go out there with a sense of urgency. We had to think and play like we were only up four or five points. They are a young team and they put a lot of pressure on the ball.”
The Westies extended the lead to 45-22 after three quarters. Johnson scored five points in the quarter and Farquharson chipped in four points to start the second half.
The only negatives for the Westies came at the free throw line where West Haven missed 14 free throws, and with the sloppy play as West Haven turned the ball over 18 times.
“You can’t miss 14 free throws and turn the ball over 18 times in the tournament,” Forbes said. “You can’t get away with that in the states.
“We have little things to work on. We have to work on our foul shots and we have to take better care of the ball.”
Farquharson, Gabby DeSisto and Savannah Brown each scored two points in the fourth quarter. Lucy Faulkner led Guilford with 13 points.
Finding a Way
Westies defeat SHA despite sluggish first half
By MIKE MADERA
(February 3, 2012) – After a loss to Hand a few games back, West Haven coach Jim Eagan and his team took up a “Refuse to Lose” motto. Looking to go 16-4 and possibly get a pair of home games in the state tournament, the Westies were put to the test Friday night in Hamden.
An abysmal first half, which included 12 turnovers, five missed free throws and just 5-for-26 shooting from the field, the Westies found themselves down by 12 at the half. A different West Haven team came to play in the second half, leading to a thrilling comeback in regulation and a 51-50 overtime victory over the Pacers at Sacred Heart Academy.
“This was a game we never should have won,” Eagan said after his team improved to 14-4 and clinched second place in the Quinnipiac Division with a 3-3 record. “It was the worst first half we have played.
“To the team’s credit, teams before this may have just said this is not our night. We came out and chipped away and made it a workable deal. We were able to find a way to win. Good teams find a way to win when they play bad.”
Scoring only five points in the first quarter and seven in the second, West Haven trailed 24-12 at the half. The Westies hit only five field goals in the opening 16 minutes as Jayva Johnson and Gabby DeSisto each scored two points in the first quarter and Johnson added five in the second quarter.
The third quarter was a different story as six different players got into the scoring column. West Haven scored 21 points in the third quarter, with McKenzie Farquharson leading the way with seven, but still trailed by nine entering the final eight minutes of regulation.
“We came out and chipped away in the second half,” Eagan said. “We got it done. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. I consider us a good team.”
West Haven’s defense played a big role in the comeback as well. The Westies held the Pacers to just three points in the final quarter, giving West Haven a chance.
The Westies capitalized behind the play of Farquharson, Johnson and Talisha Martinez as the trio combined to score 16 of the team’s 18 points between the fourth quarter and overtime. Martinez had the big shot as her 3-pointer in overtime gave West Haven the lead for good.
“I am happy because we clinched second place in the division,” Eagan said. “This was the most significant game this team has played. We came in second to Mercy. There is no shame in that. They have won the division the last eight years in a row.
“We are just trying to pile up wins. We want two home games in the state tournament. If you win your two home games, you are in the quarterfinals and anything can happen.”
Johnson led the way for West Haven with 16 points and six rebounds while Farquharson had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Martinez finished with eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and also added five rebounds and two assists.
West Haven won despite hitting just 12-of-28 free throws in the game, including several misses from the line at the end of regulation.
Senior Send Off
Johnson has triple-double in 68-59 victory
By MIKE MADERA
Special thanks to Matt Olenick who contributed to this article
(February 1, 2012) – With the seniors playing their final regular season home game of their career for West Haven, the underclassmen thanked them for their contributions in the best way possible. Led by Jayva Johnson’s triple-double, West Haven defeated Shelton 68-59 Wednesday evening on Senior Night at West Haven High.
The win improved West Haven’s record to 13-4 as the Westies hit the road for the final three regular season games of the season. The Westies will return home for the postseason.
“After we lost the Mercy game, that is no big deal,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “But, then we lost to Hand. We have come back and played well.
“I think tonight’s win gives the kids all the confidence in the world. They (Shelton) are a pretty good team. We are not the kind of team which can just show up and win. We need to play hard all the time.”
Johnson, a junior, played her best game of an already stellar season with 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals and two assists.
“We needed every one of those,” Eagan said of Johnson’s performance. “It was a game for the ages for her.
“The bottom line is after today, her name can be mentioned with anyone in the state. Tonight she played like one of the top three to five kids in the SCC. If she did that in the NBA, she would be on the ESPN highlights.”
Johnson was big from the start as she scored eight points in the first quarter after Gabby DeSisto scored West Haven’s first three points of the game. The biggest basket of the quarter came from Katie Hoyt as her 3-pointer brought West Haven within 16-14 after one quarter of play.
“We knew Shelton was a dangerous team,” Eagan said. “We told the kids before the game to not let them want it more than us tonight. I thought Katie’s basket was a big play.”
Johnson’s basket in the second quarter gave West Haven a 19-18 lead and West Haven never looked back. West Haven closed the half on a 16-9 run as Johnson had six of the points in the run and Farquharson added three, giving the Westies a 35-27 lead at the half.
Shelton opened the second half on a 7-0 run but the Gaels could never pull ahead of the Westies. Johnson answered with a pair of free throws and Farquharson hit two buckets for a 41-34 West Haven lead.
Farquharson gave West Haven a 12-point lead, 51-39 in the fourth quarter before baskets by Johnson and Talisha Martinez increased the margin to 57-45. The field goal by Martinez was West Haven’s last field goal of the night.
West Haven’s final nine points came from the free throw line as West Haven was 9-of-10 from the foul line down the stretch.
Martinez hit four free throws and Johnson added three down the stretch. Farquharson finished the game with 14 points and six rebounds, while Martinez added nine points and three steals. Savannah Brown also played well with seven points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Westies avenge earlier season loss to Hamden
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (January 30, 2012) – In the first meeting of the season between Hamden and West Haven, the Westies could not contain the trio of Sarah Shields, Geraldin Cherubin and Morgan Rams. The Westies were not going to be hurt again by the trio.
Holding Cherubin and Rams to nine total points, the Westies avenged the earlier season loss with a 59-35 victory over Hamden at West Haven High Monday evening. Shields scored 14, on four 3-pointers, but the Westies containment of the three proved valuable in the victory.
“We had our best practice of the year yesterday,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said after his team improved to 12-4. “I told the girls we needed to stop Cherubin, Rams and Shields. I thought we did a great job on them.”
While focused on stopping Hamden’s sharp shooters, the Westies gave Hamden its own problems to handle. Those problems came in the form of McKenzie Farquharson and Jayva Johnson. The pair combined for 39 of the 59 points, with Johnson scoring 28.
“We have been doing very well,” Johnson said. “We are playing more as a team this year.”
Johnson and Farquharson were the keys to the first half for the Westies as they combined for 19 of the team’s 30 first half points. Johnson scored six of the team’s first eight points, with Farquharson draining the other bucket, as West Haven jumped out to an 8-0 lead.
The Westies dominated play in the first quarter but only led by three points when the first eight minutes were over. Hamden’s Shields was a main reason why as she popped in three 3-pointers.
“We were all in sync tonight,” Farquharson said. “Like coach said after the Hand loss, we have to refuse to lose.
“The first time we played them, we gave up our share of points. They are three great players (Cherubin, Shields and Rams). We stopped two of the three tonight.”
After Shields hit a pair of free throws in the second quarter to cut the Hamden deficit to 17-14, baskets by Johnson, Farquharson and Savannah Brown gave the Westies a 23-14 lead. The dagger for the Green Dragons came at the buzzer when West Haven’s Talisha Martinez hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give West Haven a 30-18 lead at the half.
“We got out played from one end to another,” Hamden coach John Ceneri said. “Their five was better than our five today. They beat us in every aspect of the game. They outrebounded us and they outhustled us. We did not come to play today.”
Johnson took over in the third quarter with 11 points. Consecutive baskets by Johnson pushed the West Haven lead to 40-22 before her final basket of the quarter gave the Westies their biggest lead of the game to that point at 46-27.
West Haven held Hamden to just seven points in the fourth quarter and never let the Green Dragons in the game. The Westies’ defense was stellar as they held Cherubin, Shields and Rams to just seven second half points.
“After the Hand game, we just took up the motto “Refuse to Lose,” Eagan said. “We are taking it one game at a time. We just go out there and play.
“I think the turn around came in the Mercy loss. We played well on defense and it turned around last week for us. We played our best defense of the year.”
Farquharson also had five rebounds and four assists and Johnson added seven rebounds, three steals and one assist. Rae Mattaway also played well with four points, eight assists, and three rebounds.
Refuse to Lose
Johnson, Farquharson lead West Haven past Foran
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (January 27, 2012) – While the Foran and West Haven girls’ basketball teams entered Friday evening’s contest with entirely different records, both were playing with the postseason on their minds. The Lions needed three wins to qualify for the state tournament, while the Westies were trying to enforce their “Refuse to Lose” mindset to improve their postseason seeding.
Despite allowing a 19-point halftime lead to dwindle down to ten in the fourth quarter, the Westies prevailed 64-51 at West Haven High. The win allowed West Haven to improve to 11-4 while Foran fell to 5-10 and needs three wins in its final five games if the Lions hope to play in the state tournament.
“We were up nineteen at the half and we know we are not going to win by 38,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “We knew they had a run in them. We built a cushion and it is nice to have those points in reserve.
“I thought tonight was about transition. We got some easy baskets which I love and we pushed it tonight.”
Behind the playoff Jayva Johnson, who scored 26 points, and McKenzie Farquharson, who added 19, the Westies jumped out to an early lead and continued to build. By the time Savannah Brown hit a basket at the second quarter buzzer, West Haven led 37-18 at the half.
“We are not good enough to spot anyone a lead like that,” Foran coach Scott Nails said. “We did not execute tonight.
“West Haven is a very athletic team. They have a lot of size. Jayva Johnson and McKenzie Farquharson are two of the most under rated players in the conference. If you let those two get open, they are going to beat you. Rae (Mattaway) is an old-fashioned guard. She will pass the ball ten times before she takes a shot. They are a tough team.”
For all purposes, the game was decided in the first quarter. After Foran’s Alyssa Pucilli opened the game with a 3-pointer for Foran’s only lead of the game, West Haven went on an 11-0 run behind four points by Farquharson and three by Johnson.
Baskets by Jasmin Rodriquez and Maggie Folsom got the Lions within six, but Johnson closed the quarter by scoring seven of West Haven’s final nine points for a 20-7 lead.
“I thought Jayva played great defense tonight,” Eagan said. “When she plays up tempo with her defense, I believe it helps her offense.”
Johnson sandwiched a pair of baskets around a 3-pointer by Foran’s Kelly Quinn for a 24-12 West Haven lead in the second quarter.
Baskets by Gabby DeSisto and Johnson increased West Haven’s lead to 33-16 before West Haven ran down the final 55 seconds of the half and capitalized on Brown’s basket.
“I thought the play of the game was we took the final 55 seconds off the clock and Savannah finished with a layup,” Eagan said. “That was big for us.”
Foran fought back in the second half, using five points by Teneya Mclaughlin and four by Rodriquez in the third quarter to get within 43-30. The Lions kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter and used a 3-pointer by Pucilli and a basket by Mclaughlin to get within 11, 53-42.
“In our place, we lost a tough one,” Nails said. “We thought we had a chance tonight. We were down ten quickly and we are not strong enough yet to come back. We have five games left and we need three.”
Folsom’s basket cut West Haven’s lead to 58-48 with 2 minutes, 4 seconds remaining but the Westies sealed the game by hitting six of eight free throws to close the game.
“I thought it was important to break the two-game slide especially with a tough game coming up Monday against a team (Hamden) which has already beaten us,” Eagan said. “We have to step it up now. Our motto now is “Refuse to Lose.” I told the girls 16-4 probably gets you two home games in the state tournament.”
Talisha Martinez finished with seven points, Mattaway added six and Brown had four for the Westies. Farquharson also had 12 rebounds while Johnson added five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Rodriquez led Foran with 19 points, Folsom added 11 and Mclaughlin had nine in the loss.
Mercy defeats Westies
Tigers hang on to defeat WH for second time this season
By MIKE MADERA
(January 24, 2012) – The West Haven girls’ basketball team is having one of its best seasons in recent memory. The Westies would have felt better about the season had things gone differently Tuesday evening.
Falling behind early due to turnovers and trying to catch up throughout the entire contest, the Westies fell to Mercy for the second time this season, 45-38, in Middletown. West Haven fell to 10-4 on the year (1-3 in the Quinnipiac Division), while Mercy, the No. 6 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, improved to 11-3 (4-0).
“The bottom line is this,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “We were down eight at the half and had fourteen turnovers. We outscored them in the second half and had just six turnovers.
“More possessions lead to more points. That leads to success. When you keep the turnovers low, you get more possessions and more opportunities to score. We held them to 45 points. You can’t do much better than that.”
As was the case against the Tigers in the first meeting of the year, West Haven failed to capitalize on its opportunities. The Westies missed inside shots and missed seven free throws, proving to be the difference in the game.
“Missing foul shots and easy baskets are always the difference in close games,” Eagan said. “That hurts in close games. We missed breakaway layups, put backs and free throws. That always comes back to haunt you.”
The Westies also failed to take advantage of its three post players in Savannah Brown, Gabby DeSisto and McKenzie Farquharson. The trio combined for just 22 points in the game.
While Mercy did a solid job on West Haven’s post players, the Tigers were even better against West Haven’s leading scorer Jayva Johnson. Mercy held Johnson to just 10 points in the contest.
“You know going in they are not going to allow you to score a ton of points,” Eagan said of Mercy. “The bottom line is you have to put the ball in the basket.
“They put so much intense pressure on the guards. They take you out of what you do. They are the toughest defensive team we will face all year.
Farquharson led West Haven with 12 points. Brown and Talisha Martinez each scored six and DeSisto finished with four points in the loss.
The Westies chased from the start, trailing by five points after the first quarter and 27-19 at the half. Any hopes of a comeback were derailed in the third quarter when West Haven scored just eight points and trailed 40-27.
“We had opportunities with put backs and breakaways,” Eagan said. “You can’t miss those. I know we are not going to make every foul shot. But, we have to understand if we make three more free throws and make some put backs and breakaways, we win the game.”
Maria Weselyj hurt West Haven from the outside with three 3-pointers, finishing with 14 points. Liz Falcigno added 11 points as the Tiger improved to 4-0 in the Quinnipiac Division.
Westies pounded by Hand
Turnovers, poor shooting lead to third loss of season
By MIKE MADERA
Special thanks to Matt Olenick who contributed to this article.
January 17, 2012) – For those who know West Haven coach Jim Eagan, defense is the key for any team coached by him. On a good night, Eagan wants his team to keep opponents in the forty point range.
When the Hand Tigers exceeded that amount by the third quarter, the Westies were in trouble. Scoring 24 points in the third quarter, the Tigers rolled to a 67-49 victory over the Westies at West Haven High Tuesday evening.
“We did not play any defense,” Eagan said. “They were smaller and quicker. As soon as we got behind, it was not good. They are a really good team. I said it before. Anything can happen. We can beat anyone and anyone can beat us.”
Trailing by six points as the third quarter began, the Westies were looking for a quick start. Kelsey Cuddy had other ideas.
The Hand senior opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and followed a basket by Rae Mattaway with one of her own to give the Tigers a 37-26 lead.
Cuddy finished the quarter with ten of her team’s 24 points, including 3-pointers to begin and end the quarter. In between, the Tigers never let the Westies get within an arm’s length as Hand’s slimmest lead twice was five points after baskets by McKenzie Farquharson and Jayva Johnson.
Cuddy’s final 3-pointer of the third quarter sent the Westies to the final eight minutes chasing 13 points. Gabby DeSisto twice cut the deficit to 11 and a basket by Farquharson also brought the deficit to 11 at 60-49.
“The key when you are down is defense,” Eagan said. “Everyone thinks it is offense and you have to score. You can’t match them. You have to stop them and make shots. We did not stop them. We traded baskets and we gave them baskets.”
Kara McHugh also hurt the Westies. McHugh scored eight points in the final quarter and seemed to come up with a big shot every time West Haven got closer.
“They outplayed us,” Eagan said. “We had fourteen first half turnovers. It is the same thing. We do not take care of the ball. If we took care of the ball, we would have been up in the fourth quarter. The fourteen turnovers are too much to overcome.”
West Haven never led in this game and was tied just once when Mattaway’s basket evened the game at two. Johnson scored nine points in the opening quarter and West Haven trailed 18-14 after one quarter of play.
A basket and 3-pointer by Cuddy gave Hand a 23-15 lead before Farquharson got her team within six. After Jaclyn Strickland gave the Tigers a 30-18 lead, West Haven scored the final six points of the quarter, with Johnson and Farquharson each scoring three points.
“We had crucial turnovers which were too much to overcome,” Eagan said.
Farquharson led the offense with 17 points, while also grabbing four rebounds. Johnson added 16 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals while Mattaway finished with 8 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
Westies have five players in double digits in win over SHA
By MIKE MADERA
(January 13, 2012) - West Haven coach Jim Eagan has been looking for a balanced scoring attack all season. He may have just found it.
Led by five different players scoring in double figures, the Westies defeated Sacred Heart 64-60 Friday evening at West Haven High.
Eagan’s squad needed each of the five in double digits as the Westies had to rally to defeat the Pacers.
“I put pressure on the kids before the game,” Eagan said after his team improved to 10-2. “I said you are nine and two. If you lose, people are going to love to say you are nine and three but you can’t beat anyone in the league.
“In my 33 years of coaching, I cannot remember having five players in double figures. Opponents go into the year saying if you keep
McKenzie Farquhrason down, you win the game. That has not been the case. We are more balanced. This is the most balance I have seen.”
Sacred Heart proved to be a challenge in this contest. When Gabby DeSisto connected in the second quarter for West Haven, the Pacers trailed by nine points.
Coach Dave Alexandro’s team kept battling and after a 3-pointer by Alexis Iannone and baskets by Natalie Bastian and Siobhan Fennell, the Pacers were within 35-29. Talisha Martinez answered with a 3-pointer for the Westies but the Pacers had some momentum although they trailed 38-31 at he half.
“I thought we did a really good job of being patient,” Alexandro said after his team fell to 7-3. “I thought the girls were patient. On defense, we were not going to go away from what we wanted to do. We wanted to keep the ball out of the post players’ hands. They did a great job off the boards and Jayva Johnson got a lot of points around the basket.
“It was a very good game. I was happy with the offense scoring sixty points. In high school girls basketball, you usually end up with a win. We didn’t do as good a job as we could have on defense.”
After a basket by Iannone cut West Haven’s lead to five points to start the third quarter, baskets by McKenzie Farquharson and Rae Mattaway extended the lead to nine points once again at 42-33.
West Haven hit only two more field goals in the quarter and the Pacers used some long range shooting to get back in the game. Three-pointers by Elizabeth Carlson and Shyla Osmond cut West Haven’s lead to 43-39 before Farquharson extended the advantage to six points once again with a basket.
The Pacers followed with a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game since leading 4-3 early in the first quarter. Baskets by Iannone and Osmond, coupled with Osmond’s free throw after her bucket tied the game, gave Sacred Heart a 46-45 lead.
“He (Alexandro) said it was one of his best offensive teams since the nineties,” Eagan said of Alexandro and the Pacers. “They are very improved.”
DeSisto’s basket at the end of the quarter put the Westies back in front after three quarters but Sacred Heart scored the first bucket of the final quarter when Fennell gave the Pacers a 48-47 lead. West Haven followed with an 8-2 run on baskets by DeSisto, Mattaway, Martinez and Johnson to extend the lead to 55-50.
“I though Gabby (DeSisto) really stepped it up,” Eagan said after DeSisto played her best game in a West Haven uniform with 12 points and two rebounds. “She is a very good low post player. She knows the system. The thing now is getting her comfortable in the game. The kids lover her. She is a great kid.”
The Pacers continued to chip away and got within two points on Osmond’s basket and free throw at 57-55 before DeSisto added another basket. When Farquharson scored to extend the advantage to 61-57, the Pacers refused to give up.
Three straight points, highlighted by Iannone’s basket cut the deficit for Sacred Heart to 61-60 but Sacred Heart would get no closer. West Haven iced the game at the free throw line as DeSisto hit a pair of free throws and Johnson hit one to close out the four point victory.
“They deserved to win especially after the way they played in the first half,” Alexandro said of West Haven. “We did not get the bounces at the end. I thought the defense gave us a chance to win.”
Johnson led all scorers with 14 points and four assists. Johnson also grabbed 11 rebounds as the Westies, as a team, had 31 rebounds in the game. Farquharson added 12 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had four assists, Martinez also scored 12 points and Mattaway had ten points, dished out 11 assists and had three rebounds.
The Pacers had three players in double digits. Iannone led the way with 13 points, Micaela Montini had 11 and Osmond scored 10.
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