Farquharson leads Westies over Hand
Westies overcome poor first half in season opener
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN – West Haven junior captain McKenzie Farquharson is not interested in repeating a disappointing season of a year ago. When Farquharson went down with cramps in her leg in the fourth quarter, the senior was not going to let those cramps get in the way of an opening night victory.
Farquharson and her teammates were not to be denied against Hand-Madison as the Westies struggled early but rebounded to defeat the Tigers 44-34 at West Haven High in the season opener for both teams. Farquharson was among three players in double digit scoring as she finished with 12 points to go along with her 15 rebounds.
“We want to come back strong this year,” Farquharson said. “We were young last year. We are not young anymore. It was a team effort. We all pulled together.”
McKenzie Farquharson (25), seen here against Shelton, led the Westies in the season opener with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Photo courtesy of WHHS.
The Westies needed a team effort to overcome 17 first half turnovers. West Haven held first quarter leads of 6-0 and 9-2 as Jayva Johnson scored six points and Farquharson three in the opening quarter. That lead shrunk to 11-8 as Hand’s Morgan Celone drained a late bucket for the Tigers in the opening quarter.
Hand took its first lead of the game when Kelsey Cuddy drained a 3-pointer and Amanda Leonardi drained a basket for a 13-12 Tiger lead. A 3-pointer by Jackie Strickland put the Tigers on top 16-14 and Leonardi’s bucket with 53 seconds to go in the half gave Hand a 19-18 halftime advantage.
“We had 17 turnovers and we were down by a point,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “I told the girls we were very lucky to only be down one the way we played. We could not play any worse. We were fine on defense but we made some bad decisions with the ball.”
The third quarter decided the game as West Haven opened the half with an 11-3 run and never looked back. Farquharson gave West Haven the lead for good at 20-19 before five straight points by Katie Hoyt, including a 3-pointer, gave West Haven a 25-21 lead.
A pair of free throws and a bucket by Farquharson increased the lead to 31-23 before the Westies pulled away. Baskets by Rae Mattaway and Johnson sent the Westies to the final quarter leading 35-27.
“We played strong,” Farquharson said of the second half. “We wanted this game. We do not want our season to be like last year. The key for us was for us to rebound, push and get easy baskets.”
Hand got as close as six points twice in the final quarter on baskets by Strickland and Leonardi but never got closer despite 10 West Haven turnovers in the final eight minutes. The Westies finished the game with 32 turnovers.
“This team does not yet understand the importance of possessions,” Eagan said. “I cannot take 25 or 26 turnovers or whatever we had. We can’t put that pressure on the offense. It starts in practice.
“This win is huge. Last year, we were the door mats. We were too young. There are no excuses this year. I am not buying the young excuse.”
Hoyt and Johnson helped seal the game in the fourth quarter. Hoyt scored five points in the final frame, including three free throws in the final 1:08. Johnson added four points and sealed the game with 10 seconds left with a pair of free throws.
Johnson also had a solid night with 13 points and 15 rebounds while Hoyt added 13 points as well in a balanced attack. Kelsey Hawtin contributed to West Haven’s dominance on the boards with 8 rebounds and Mattaway added 6 assists to go along with her 4 points.
Leonardi and Strickland led Hand with 9 points each. Cuddy added 7 in the loss for the Tigers. Both teams struggled from the free throw line as West Haven was 15-for-26.while Hand finished 5-for-16.
Giving one Away
23 turnovers doom Westies against Amity
By MIKE MADERA
(12/12/10) - Heading into last Friday evening’s contest, the Amity and West Haven girls basketball teams entered with many similarities. Both teams were coming off disappointing five-win seasons and were looking to rebound this year and each had opened the season with a victory.
Those similarities continued into the third quarter as the two teams were deadlocked after 24 minutes of play. Hitting key free throws down the stretch, Amity improved to 2-0 with a hard fought 43-36 victory over the Westies at West Haven High.
“As a coaching staff, we are very happy,” first-year Amity coach Michelle Martinik said. “We are very excited. The girls are doing a wonderful job. We are excited with how the girls have responded to a brand new system.
“If our defense is solid, we will be in every game. Sometimes the shots will fall, sometimes they don’t. But, we have to play well on defense.”
West Haven opened its season with a victory over Hand-Madison despite some sloppy play and 32 turnovers. The Westies would not be as fortunate against the Spartans after turning the ball over 23 more times.
Both teams struggled to connect on their field goal attempts early and each team struggled at the free throw line, where Amity shot just 65% (11-for-17) and West Haven was just 47% (7-for-15).
“I am very disappointed for the simple reason if you told me we were playing a team which was not going to press us and would sit in a 2-3 zone the entire game, I would say we would have ten turnovers,” Eagan said. “But, we had twenty three. You can’t turn the ball over twenty three times. They won by seven. Those turnovers are big.
“We are down by three with a minute and a half to go. We get a steal and we turn the ball over. Unless we take care of the ball better, every game is going to be a struggle. They made the foul shots and we didn’t.”
Martinik wanted to bring her aggressive, hard-nosed play she displayed during her playing career and that play is evident through two games. The first-year coach has her team playing hard on defense and has gotten everyone involved on the offensive side.
Against West Haven, eight different players were in the scoring column, with Tabitha Brown leading the way with 13 points. Chloe Brinton hit some key shots and finished with 9 points and Mikaila Schmitt added 6.
“We really tried to focus on our defense,” Martinik said. “We worked the 2-3 very well. We moved well. We knew we were going to have the hit the boards. We worked as a team. If you have one weak link in the defense, everything falls apart.”
Eagan stresses defense to all his teams and this year, the Westies want to get out on the break after turnovers. With McKenzie Farquharson a dominant force inside, the Westies hope to exploit that advantage in every game.
While Farquharson finished with 14 points, the Westies were hurt in the first quarter when they missed plenty of open shots and foul shots. Amity struggled as well as each team scored just four points in the opening eight minutes. The lack of offense would prove costly to the Westies in the end.
“The first quarter was four to four,” Eagan said. “We should have easily been up 12 or 14 to 4. With the easy shots we missed and the free throws, we let them hang around. Now, they feel they can play with us and they are in the game. Every time we needed a clutch basket, we turned the ball over. If we needed to hit a foul shot, we missed it.”
The two teams got going in the second quarter and played a faster pace with Amity holding a one-point lead at 18-17. The defense returned again in the third quarter with each team scoring in single digits and the game entered the final quarter knotted at 25.
The decisive fourth quarter saw the momentum swing back and forth. In the end, however, it was the Spartans which made the clutch shot and iced the game with late free throws to start the season at 2-0.
West Haven never got closer than three points and fell to 1-1 with the loss.
“We were able to hit some key shots and some free throws,” Martinik said. “The free throws were huge because they made it a two possession game instead of one. Chloe (Brinton) made a big shot to make it a two possession game.”
Eagan expressed his concerns about his team’s inability to convert its free throws.
“We are at fifty percent from the foul line,” Eagan said. “You can’t shoot that. It is a free shot. We concentrate and spend more time on free throws than anyone in the state. We practice them at the beginning of practice when our legs are strong, in the middle and at the end when we are tired. But, you can’t simulate being at the line and down one. The pressure gets to us.”
Rae Mattaway and Katie Hoyt each added 6 points for West Haven in the loss. Hoyt connected on the lone 3-pointer in the game for either team.
Westies squeak past East Haven
Balanced attack leads to win
By MIKE MADERA
When West Haven coach Jim Eagan looked at his schedule, it would be safe to say he hoped to be undefeated at the holiday break. While the Westies suffered a bump in the road against Amity in the second game of the season, they have responded with a pair of victories to improve to 3-1 on the year.
West Haven’s latest win came Friday night in East Haven with a nail-biting 53-47 decision. Using a balanced attack which saw three players in double figures, the Westies were able to hold off the host Yellow Jackets.
“Any time you have two road games in a week and you average 54 points a game, that’s pretty good,” Eagan said. “You have to be thrilled with that.”
With McKenzie Farquharson as the inside presence for the Westies, they were able to spread the ball around and get some open looks. Farquharson finished with 23 points and teammates Rae Mattaway and Jayva Johnson also finished in double digits with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
“This is a fun group,” Eagan said. “The scoring can come in three different ways with McKenzie (Farquharson) down low, Katie (Hoyt) on the outside and Jayva (Johnson) in transition.
“People are going to know about her (Farquharson) very quickly. She could have had 33 or 35 points easily. She can average 20 points a game. We have a rule if the post player is open, get her the ball. The biggest thing now is if she knows she doesn’t have a shot, she kicks it back out.”
East Haven did a nice job hanging around in this contest as the Yellow Jackets never let West Haven pull away. The Westies led 9-8 after one quarter and only 26-24 at the half. The lead remained at two points through three quarters before West Haven sank its free throws in the fourth to seal the victory.
“We started out 0-for-5 in the first quarter with free throws,” Eagan said. “We were 9-of-17 at the half. We cannot do that. We have to be better. Rae Mattaway was 8-of-11 which was good. We are going to the line a lot. We have people who are not afraid to take it to the basket. We have to get to 75 percent from the line.”
Mattaway and Johnson played well for the Westies. Along with scoring in double digits, Mattaway dished out eight assists and Johnson had eight rebounds.
“McKenzie, Jayva and Katie Hoyt have done the bulk of the scoring,” Eagan said. “Rae (Mattaway) has to dish the ball. She knows that. We have kids who can score. Rae knows if she gives us six points and six assists, she will be one of the most valuable kids on the team.
“Rae had the game of her life. She had 12 points and eight assists. She was responsible for 28 points. She had eight assists and two turnovers. We would be happy with a two to one ratio. She gave us four to one. Everyone stepped up.”
East Haven scored more than half of its points from the outside, including eight 3-pointers. Julia Waters scored 15 points for the Yellow Jackets, hitting three shots from 3-point range.
Samantha Doebrick connected on two from 3-point range as did Danielle Polvan who scored 10 points. Shauna Dinneen was the third East Haven player in double digit scoring as she also drained a 3-pointer and finished with 11 points.
“We played probably three quarters of the game in man-to-man,” Eagan said. “We are confident in what we can do. We know if we need to play a certain defense, we can do it.
“East Haven shot very well. When it came time where we needed a defensive stop, we did what we had to do.”
Third quarter run propel Gaels over Westies
West Haven falls to 3-2 with loss
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (12/21/10) – West Haven girls basketball coach Jim Eagan has always believed you play like you practice. That is why after Monday’s practice, Eagan felt his team was in trouble heading into the last game before the Christmas break against Shelton.
Eagan’s thoughts proved correct as West Haven played sloppily throughout the contest and watched Shelton rally for a 53-43 victory at West Haven High. Shelton used a 23-13 run in the third quarter to hand West Haven its second loss in five games.
“You play like you practice,” Eagan said after his team fell to 3-2. “We lost this game yesterday (Monday). I knew we were in a lot of trouble. We were coming off a great win against East Haven. I gave them two days off and we came out without any sense of urgency.
“We had a chance to go four and one and have a nice little break at Christmas. I said it yesterday at practice. Coach (Bob) Forbes said it. The same turnovers we had in practice, we had today in the game.”
After Jayva Johnson scored six points and Rae Mattaway popped in four points in the first quarter, the Westies were tied with the Gaels at 15. Johnson then scored eight of her team’s 10 points in the second quarter as the Westies led 25-24 at the half.
Rae Mattaway drives to the basket against Shelton. Photo courtesy of WHHS.
That lead could have been much bigger as West Haven shot poorly from the free throw line and missed several inside shots. West Haven finished the game 10-of-24 from the free throw line.
“I do not like the fact we did not finish on offense,” Eagan said. “We shot horribly from the free throw line. If we made our shots, we would be up ten (at the half).”
The one-point lead quickly disappeared in the third quarter. Shelton opened the quarter with a 15-10 advantage then closed with an 8-3 run. West Haven’s Katie Hoyt scored six of the team’s first 10 points in the quarter.
Trailing by five, Tia Maynard’s basket got West Haven within three at 40-37 with 2 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the third quarter but that was as close as the Westies would get. The Gaels closed the quarter on a 7-1 run, including a 3-pointer by Lauren McCone with 2:20 left in the quarter for a 47-37 lead.
Any chance of a Westie comeback slipped away quickly in the fourth quarter. Shelton used a basket by Alyssa Eannotti and 4-of-9 shooting from the free throw line to score the first six points of the final quarter.
“We need a whole new attitude in practice,” Eagan said. “The people who work hard in practice will be rewarded with game time. We have to play smart.
“We have to learn how to practice. What you do in practice, you do in the game. You can’t turn it on and off like a faucet.”
West Haven could not hit from the inside and struggled from the outside as well. Shelton did a great job on West Haven’s inside presence, holding McKenzie Farquharson to just three points in the game.
West Haven’s first points of the fourth quarter came on Hoyt’s 3-pointer with 1:15 remaining before Amber Boothroyd scored with 11 seconds to go.
Johnson led West Haven with 16 points. Hoyt scored 10 points and Maynard added six in the loss. Megan Burke led Shelton with 15 points and Melissa Corraro scored 13.
Shelton was 11-of-19 from the free throw line.
Jagoe rescues Lions
Gutsy performance leads Lions past West Haven
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (1/11/11)- Foran’s Taylor Jagoe is known as a hard-nosed player. If there were ever any doubts, they were erased Wednesday evening.
With about four minutes to go in the game, Jagoe brought the ball up the court with the Lions trying to preserve the lead over host West Haven. In an instant, Jagoe ran off the court, throwing up as time was called.
Jagoe missed about two minutes of game time then returned to sink 7-of-8 free throws in the final 1 minute, 45 seconds of the fourth quarter to preserve a 60-52 Lion victory. Jagoe finished with 16 points in the game.
“There is a bug going around,” Foran coach Scott Nails said. “We were fortunate to have Taylor get back in the game. She left her heart and soul on the court. I am really happy for her and the kids.”
After the two teams traded baskets throughout the first quarter, Foran took the lead for good when Maggie Folsom knocked down her shot with 46 seconds left to give the Lions a 13-12 lead. Baskets by Katie Hoyt and McKenzie Farquharson had given West Haven its only leads of the game, the latter with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
A pair of baskets by Brie Russo and a free throw by Jagoe were part of a 10-0 run which ended in the second quarter with Foran leading 18-12. The Lions got the lead as high as 10 points on Kelly Quinn’s free throws with 1:30 remaining in the half.
“We were able to get some lay-ups,” Nails said. “We got a good lift from the bench.”
West Haven showed plenty of heart in this game as the Westies continually fought back. Farquharson hit a basket then knocked down a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to 29-24.
“There is no such thing as a good loss,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said “But, the kids played hard. They kept coming back. There was no quit in them. That kind of effort is what you want all the time.”
Foran opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run on baskets by Jasmin Rodriguez, Jagoe and Cristina LaPenna, part of an 8-0 run, to give the Lions a 37-24 lead. Farquharson’s basket with 4:30 left in the third were West Haven’s first points of the quarter as the Lions did a nice job defending West Haven’s inside presence.
“We knew they were athletic,” Nails said. “McKenzie is very good. She is very good in and out. (Katie) Hoyt is a very good spot up shooter. We wanted to pressure them and not let them get their shots.”
Two more baskets by Folsom gave Foran a 41-26 lead with 3:21 to go in the quarter before Jayva Johnson twice cut the Westie deficit to 10. Foran used another 6-0 run, highlighted by Quinn’s 3-pointer, to take a 49-33 lead with 58 seconds remaining in the third.
Four points by Farquharson highlighted a 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter as West Haven twice got as close as seven points on a 3-pointer by Hoyt and later on a basket by Johnson. The Westies cut the deficit to six points with under a minute to go, but Jagoe calmly sealed the game with her free throws.
“We have to get a larger bench,” Eagan said. “I am waiting for someone to open my eyes in practice. We have to get more from our bench.
“We are in a six-game stretch where we can go anywhere from now 5-1 to 1-5. If we play with the determination and effort we played with tonight, we will be alright. We played hard.”
Rodriguez added 12 points, Russo had 9 and Ashley Springsteen finished with 7 for the Lions. Johnson led all scorers with 20 points for West Haven. Farquharson added 19 and Hoyt had 9 in the loss.
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Westies throttle East Haven
21-5 run in first quarter key to victory
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN – When the West Haven girls basketball team lost its first two games after returning from the holiday break, coach Jim Eagan was looking for someone to step forward and lead the team. The two losses were part of a three-game losing streak which saw West Haven’s record fall below the .500 mark.
West Haven has since responded to Eagan’s plea. Winners of two games in a row, including Tuesday evening’s 59-36 home victory over East Haven, West Haven has its goal of qualifying for the state tournament in sight.
“It was a nice game for us,” Eagan said. “We were able to jump out to the early lead and take control of the game.
“Coming off three losses was tough for us. We needed the last two wins. They were as close to must-wins as you can get. These games are important.”
The Westies have struggled at times to start games this season. Tuesday evening at West Haven High was not one of those games.
West Haven opened the game on a 21-5 run over the first eight minutes and never looked back in picking up its fifth win of the year. McKenzie Farquharson and Jayva Johnson made sure there were no such letdowns facing a winless East Haven team as Farquharson led the Westies with 18 points, while Johnson scored 15.
“When McKenzie is determined to take the ball to the basket, she will,” Eagan said. “She is hitting 3’s and she is a very good post-up player. She is getting better every day.”
McKenzie Farquharson and Rae Mattaway (3) played solid defense as the Westies defeated East Haven. Photo courtesy of WHHS.
The Westies wasted no time setting the tone of the game with an offensive barrage in the opening quarter. Farquharson led the way in the opening quarter with 7 points, including a 3-pointer, Rae Mattaway had 5 points and Johnson added 4 as the Westies built a 16-point lead.
“When you jump out to a lead like that, anything can happen, but more often than not, you are going to win,” Eagan said. “When you get a team down 21-5, nine times out of ten, you are going to win.”
A 3-pointer and a basket by East Haven’s Julia Waters cut the Westies’ lead to 13 points before Mattaway and Savannah Brown added baskets to give West Haven a 27-11 lead with 4 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first half.
East Haven twice got as close as 15 points in the second quarter but West Haven had an answer each time. A basket by Brown with 1:45 left in the half and another by Farquharson with 1:10 remaining gave West Haven a 31-14 lead at the break.
“It was good to be in that position,” Eagan said. “Thirty-one points is a great offensive half and 14 points is a great defensive half. There was not much to complain about.”
The second half was played much closer as West Haven had only a six-point advantage but the contest was never close. Farquharson and Johnson each scored 5 points in the third quarter as West Haven built a 43-25 lead.
The lead increased to 23 points in the fourth quarter, allowing West Haven to cruise to the victory. Farquharson, Johnson, Katie Hoyt and Kelsey Hawtin each scored 4 points in the final quarter.
“We had nice balance,” Eagan said. “Our two post players, Kelsey Hawtin and Savannah Brown combined for ten points. If I can get that from them, I will be very happy.”
West Haven also controlled the boards. Farquharson led the way with 11 rebounds and Johnson had 9 for the Westies. Mattaway had a solid game with 7 points, 7 assists and 5 steals.
“She (Mattaway) had a tremendous game,” Eagan said. “I cannot ask more from a point guard.”
Hoyt finished the game with 9 points and Brown added 6. West Haven also shot well from the free throw line, connecting 10-of-11 shots.
“We have made a lot of improvements with our foul shots the last couple of games,” Eagan said. “We are hammering that at practice.”
Waters had a game-high 19 points for East Haven. The Yellowjackets struggled at the free throw line, hitting on just 13-of-27 shots.
Farquharson puts on show
Junior scores game-high 24 points as Westies reach .500
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (1/25/11) – West Haven girls basketball coach Jim Eagan feels McKenzie Farquharson is going to have to be considered for an All-State selection this season. Stating how good Farquharson’s game has been and how good the junior was Saturday evening, Eagan may have a valid point.
Paced by a game-high 24 points from Farquharson, including a run of 12 straight points in the second quarter, the Westies overcame a tough start and defeated the Indians 59-36 at West Haven High. The win allowed West Haven to improve to 6-6 on the season.
“This was a must-win game for us,” Eagan said of his team. “I put some pressure on them. After last week, I asked the girls to tell me where the three wins (to qualify for the state tournament) were coming from.
“The offense played well all night. We played awful on defense in the first quarter then played three good quarters of defense. We played four quarters of great offense.”
Leading 21-20 in the second quarter, Farquharson started a string of 12 straight points with a pair of free throws Farquharson outscored North Haven 12-4 in the run and was unstoppable in the paint.
The Indians had no answer for Farquharson’s turn-around dribble into the lane as the junior took over. A pair of Farquharson baskets in the final 55 seconds of the middle period increased the Westie lead to 33-24 at the half.
“I am just trying to slow down and not force things,” Farquharson said. “Once I got a few shots in, it helped me.”
Farquharson had the first West Haven points of the third quarter to end a run of 14 straight points by the junior and gave West Haven a 35-25 lead. Jayva Johnson then scored the next seven West Haven points, including a 3-pointer to give the Westies a 42-27 lead.
The Westies took their biggest lead of the third quarter on Farquharson’s basket with 1:08 to go. Baskets by Johnson, Farquharson and Katie Hoyt gave West Haven its biggest lead of the night to that point at 53-29.
The win helped West Haven inch closer to the state tournament and help erase what was a poor start after the holiday break.
“I think maybe we were a little too cocky with the three wins after having only four or five wins the past few years,” Farquharson said of the team’s start to the season. “We are starting to realize we can play the game. We have to continue playing hard.”
The game started with the two teams combining for five 3-pointers to help West Haven take a 9-6 lead. Hoyt drained a pair and Johnson added another but Olivia DeCapua had an answer with two 3-pointers of her own for North Haven.
Despite missing several inside shots, the Westies held leads of 13-10 and 15-14 on Hoyt’s free throws and Farquharson’s basket with 1:37 to go in the opening quarter.
Another Farquharson basket with 19 seconds to go in the quarter gave West Haven a 16-15 lead before Onalee Collins’ basket with 4 seconds to go in the quarter gave the Indians a 17-16 lead.
North Haven committed numerous turnovers and missed several shots in the second quarter thanks to West Haven’s defense. Brianna Mellilo had 3 of North Haven’s 8 points in the quarter for the Indians.
West Haven’s defense was superb in the third quarter, allowing only one field goal by Collins. North Haven, which was outscored 14-5 in the third quarter, scored its other 3 points on two free throws by Amanda Rizzo and another by Collins.
Johnson connected for 17 points and Hoyt finished with 15 in the win for the Westies. Rae Mattaway ran the Westie offense with 9 assists. DeCapua led North Haven with 13 points and Collins added 11 in the loss for the Indians.
Westies fall despite valiant rally
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (2/4/11) – As the regular season draws to a conclusion, each remaining game takes on greater importance. For both the West Haven and Hamden girls basketball teams, Friday night was a must win for each.
Hamden entered with five wins, needing three wins in its final four games to qualify for the state tournament, while West Haven needed to win two of its last six with a week of four games approaching.
When all was said and done, the Green Dragons came away victorious, defeating West Haven 56-52 at West Haven High. Hamden’s victory came despite letting an 18-point lead slip away.
“We needed this one,” Hamden coach John Ceneri said after his team improved to 6-11. “We need to win two of our last three to get in the state tournament.
“They are young girls. They thought the game was over and that was exactly what happened. A senior team buries the hatchet and puts them away. We didn’t do that. We learned a good lesson tonight. Those girls (West Haven) played hard. Give West Haven credit. They did not give up.”
Starting with Morgan Rams’ basket with 1 second remaining in the first quarter and ending with Geraldine Cherubin’s basket with 5 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the first half, Hamden went on a 12-0 run to take a 30-15 lead.
West Haven’s Savannah Brown snapped the string 10 seconds later with a free throw but Kathleen Shultz answered with a 3-pointer for a 33-16 Hamden lead. Alivia Wilson’s basket with less than a minute remaining in the half gave the Green Dragons a 39-21 lead.
The Westies fought back in the second half. McKenzie Farquharson, who led all scorers with 25 points, started the third quarter with 4 straight points. After a 3-pointer by Shultz increased the Hamden lead to 44-27 with 3:54 remaining in the third, the Westies went on a 13-0 run, including the final 8 points of the third quarter.
Farquharson started the third quarter run with a basket and ended it in the final 10 seconds to cut the deficit to 9. When Katie Hoyt nailed a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter and Farquharson followed with a bucket, West Haven trailed 44-40 with 6:14 remaining.
Rams then outscored West Haven 6-2 before a Farquharson basket with 1:10 remaining drew West Haven within 52-46. West Haven was forced to foul and the strategy paid off as the Green Dragons were 4-of-13 from the free throw line in the final minute.
Rae Mattaway got West Haven within 54-52 with 22.9 seconds remaining but Hoyt was called for an intentional foul with 14 seconds to go. Hamden made 1-of-4 free throws in the two possessions that followed, allowing West Haven a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer.
West Haven got an open look to tie the game but Jayva Johnson’s 3-point attempt was well short of the rim. Amber Kountz iced the game with 2 seconds remaining, hitting 1-of-2 free throws.
"We showed a lot of heart,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said after his team fell to 6-9. “We were down 17 and got within 2. It was our defense which did that. If you do not make stops, you can not score. We held them to 17 points in the (second) half. It was a phenomenal job.
“We executed everything we were supposed to do in the second half. It was a great effort. Sometimes you do everything you are supposed to do but come up short.”
West Haven was hurt as the team missed several lay-ups and committed numerous unforced turnovers. That combination was too much for the Westies to overcome.
“We left more points out there,” Eagan said. “We get down three and turn the ball over. It’s the little things. Those little things come back to haunt you.
“We have to get better at that. We missed too many easy shots. That can’t happen, not at this level.”
The first quarter was a wide open affair. A 7-3 Hamden run ended the quarter with the Green Dragons ahead 20-15. Rams scored 8 points in the opening quarter for Hamden.
Rams led Hamden with 18 points. Cherubin added 15 and Shultz scored 7 in the win despite the Green Dragons hitting just 8-of-20 free throws. Johnson and Hoyt each scored 9 points in the loss for West Haven.
Westies on the Brink
Need wins in final two games to play in tournament
By MIKE MADERA
WOODBRIDGE (2/10/11) – With three games left in the regular season, the West Haven girls basketball team needed one win to qualify for the state tournament. Looking to get that win sooner rather than later, the Westies looked to clinch that bid as they traveled to play Amity Thursday evening.
Forty-eight seconds were all that separated the Westies from clinching that berth. Unfortunately for West Haven, that time frame was long enough for Amity to score five of the last six points in a 46-43 victory.
With the loss, West Haven falls to 7-11 and needs a victory Friday evening against Shelton or Monday evening in the season finale against Wilbur Cross to play in the postseason. Amity improves to 11-7, breaking a three-game losing streak.
“We had one chance to win the game and we blew it,” West Haven coach Jim Eagan said. “Then we had a second chance. They are not going to give you a third.”
The sequence Eagan was referring to came with less than a minute to play and West Haven leading 42-41. In a delayed offense, Eagan did not want his team to put up a shot unless it was a lay-up. The Westie coach was hoping for his team to get fouled.
Instead, Amity’s pressure defense forced Rae Mattaway to take a shot which was off the mark and rebounded by the Spartans. The Westie defense held and got possession back for West Haven.
After a whistle, West Haven had another shot to seal the game with 28 seconds remaining. Amity freshman Chloe Brinton stole Katie Hoyt’s inbound pass and was fouled by Mattaway.
Brinton made 1-of-2 free throws to knot the game at 42. When the freshman missed the back end of the free throws, Mikaila Schmitt grabbed the rebound and dropped in an easy basket for a 44-42 lead with 21 seconds to go.
“We have had a couple of games where we have been down and have bounced back,” Amity coach Michelle Martinik said. “It is great to come through again. We were able to pull through. This team has come a long way.”
The Westies had a chance to knot the game but McKenzie Farquharson made only 1-of-2 free throws. With 13 seconds to go, Brinton added a pair of free throws for a 3-point lead and Farquharson’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim, putting West Haven’s postseason hopes on the brink.
“We worked on the delay in practice yesterday,” Eagan said. “This is a game we needed. If we don’t get in, we don’t deserve it.”
The two teams battled from the opening tip with neither team gaining any separation. Farquharson scored 5 points in the opening quarter and Hoyt’s 3-pointer gave the Westies an 8-6 lead. Baskets by Amity’s Molly Ronan and Schmitt tied the game at 10 before Jayva Johnson gave West Haven a 12-10 lead with 8 seconds to go in the opening quarter.
The Spartans opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run with baskets by Schmitt and Sarah Tashea sandwiching a pair of free throws by Brinton. West Haven then answered with a 6-0 run on baskets by Johnson, Farquharson and Kelsey Hawtin but the run could have been more had the Westies not missed four free throws. West Haven was 1-of-6 from the line in the second quarter and 2-of-10 in the first half.
“We were 2-of-10 from the foul line in the first half,” Eagan said. “That didn’t help.”
West Haven appeared to take control in the third quarter as Hoyt’s 3-pointer gave the Westies a 24-20 lead. Tabatha Brown, however, answered with two straight baskets to tie the game at 24.
Two Farquharson baskets sandwiched a bucket by Amity’s Brinton for a 28-26 Westie lead before Schmitt drained a bucket with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter to knot the game at 28.
The Spartans opened the fourth quarter with buckets by Schmitt and Mirmina for a 32-28 lead and West Haven answered with a pair of Farquharson free throws and a 3-pointer by Hoyt to take a 33-32 lead with 6:14 remaining.
Mirmina, who finished with 6 points in the fourth quarter, brought Amity within 40-39 and Brown got Amity within a point at 42-41 before the final sequence propelled the Spartans to victory.
Farquharson led all scorers with 19 points. Hoyt and Johnson each added 9 in the loss. Schmitt led eight different Amity scorers with 13 points. Mirmina and Brown each scored 8 and Brinton finished with 7.
“We want to be competitive every time we play, every time we practice,” Martinik said. “It will show in the game. The girls are great. They really work hard.”
Brown also added 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 assists. Jennifer Post grabbed 8 rebounds for the Spartans.
Westies fail to qualify for state tournament
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (2/14/11) – With eight games left in the regular season, West Haven coach Jim Eagan stressed to his team not to let qualifying for the state tournament come down to the last game against Wilbur Cross. Fast forward seven games and Eagan got exactly what he did not want.
After losing games against Amity and Shelton in the last week where the Westies had the lead and the ball with less than two minutes to play in each but could not close the deal, West Haven needed to defeat the Governors in order to play in both the Southern Connecticut Conference and state tournaments.
The dreams of playing in the postseason came to a crashing end when the Westies scored only 12 second half points and fell to the Governors 53-43 at West Haven High Monday evening on Senior Night. The Westies, who finished 7-13, played possibly their best half of the season in the opening 16 minutes but were a different team in the final two quarters.
“When they went to man (second half), we went to our spread offense which we have done all year,” Eagan said of Cross’ switch from zone to man to start the second half. “It’s all about execution. We did not execute.
“This team has been very inconsistent. We were inconsistent from quarter to quarter, possession to possession. In the first half, we were tremendous on offense and defense. They did all you could ask. The second half was different. You just can’t ask McKenzie (Farquharson) to score every time. We need others to take it to the basket.”
With the way the first half ended, it would have been easy to pencil the Westies in the postseason. Led by Katie Hoyt’s 13 first half points and 10 more from Farquharson, the West Haven offense was putting the pressure on Cross.
Trailing 6-0, Hoyt got West Haven within 6-4 then drained a 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 19 seconds to go in the opening quarter for a 7-6 Westie lead. Another 3-pointer by Hoyt put West Haven ahead 12-8 before Hoyt gave the Westies a 14-12 lead with less than a minute to play in the quarter.
Cross had a weapon as well as Aaliyah Robinson was in the zone from the opening tip. Robinson scored 8 points in the first quarter and added 7 more in the second as the Governors took a 17-16 lead on a Robinson 3-pointer.
A 3-pointer by Farquharson with 4:31 remaining in the first half gave the Westies a 23-21 lead before Hoyt’s 3-pointer with 1:41 to go in the half gave the Westies a 26-25 advantage. When Farquharson hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go in the second quarter, West Haven led 31-27 at the break.
Jayva Johnson extended the lead to 6 points in the third quarter, giving the Westies all the momentum. That momentum faded as West Haven had two possessions to increase the lead but failed to do so. Following Johnson’s bucket, the Westies went 9 consecutive possessions without a point and the Governors took advantage.
Cross went on an 11-0 run, with 9 of those points coming from Robinson, to take a 38-33 lead. Farquharson hit a pair of free throws with 6.1 seconds to go in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 3, but Atong Reyak’s bucket with 0.4 seconds left in the quarter extended the Cross lead to 40-35.
“Katie was hitting them in the first half,” Eagan said. “She only got one shot in the second half. We needed to do a better job finding her.”
Robinson scored the first 4 points of the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 9, but West Haven battled back. Farquharson who scored all 8 of West Haven’s fourth quarter points, got West Haven within 46-40 with 4:38 to go but the Westies never got closer.
“We pushed the ball in the first half,” Hoyt said after finishing with 13 points, including three 3-pointers. “We did not drive to the basket in the second half to open up the wings.
“Knowing we had our chances to get it done in the last four games makes it ten times worse. We could have beaten all of them. We had so much potential but lost it.”
Farquharson, who started the game 1-of-13 from the field, finished with a team-high 20 points for the Westies to go along with 7 rebounds. Rae Mattaway finished with 9 assists and 8 steals while Johnson had 4 points and 7 rebounds.
“I think the pressure got to them without a doubt,” Eagan said. “We have no one to blame but ourselves. It starts in that (practice) gym every day for two hours.
“We had the lead against Amity with under two minutes to go and the ball. Against Shelton, we had the lead and the ball with under two minutes. We could not close the deal. If we do what we are supposed to do, it never comes down to this game. I thought we would have 10 wins, maybe 13 or 14. This team was too inconsistent.”
Robinson led all players with 32 points for the Governors. Reyak had 7 points and Tameia Bell added 6.