East Lyme girls get past NFA this time
East Lyme — His team has been working in practice on what East Lyme High School girls' basketball coach Sal Fiorillo calls "basketball IQ situations."
The fact the Vikings won Tuesday night's game by a point, 58-57, over a Norwich Free Academy team which beat East Lyme by double figures the first time the teams played — and did so despite trailing as late as the two and a half minute mark of the fourth quarter — shows Fiorillo's team has been paying attention.
"We still could have done a few things better, getting the ball in the right person's hands ... every day we get a little bit better at it," Fiorillo said. "We've been working on being consistent for 32 minutes. So far, we haven't played our best game this year.
"We played our best basketball last year in the state tournament (during a Class L quarterfinal run) and we're hoping to do that again."
NFA, previously unbeaten in Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I play, led 50-49 on a basket by Caitlyn Dooley with 3 minutes, 10 seconds to play.
East Lyme's Sophie Dubreuil tipped the one-point game back in the Vikings' favor with 2:36 to go on a drive to the basket and then delivered the back-breaker with 1:19 remaining as she sank a 3-point field goal from the top of the arc for a 54-50 lead and one the team was able to preserve for the win.
NFA's Jenissa Varela scored seven points in the final 1:07, starting with a free throw that made it 54-51, but the Wildcats had three potential game-tying 3-pointers rattle out in the closing 53 seconds, finally settling for a layup by Varela which pulled the Wildcats within 54-53.
East Lyme went 4-for-5 from the free throw line, however, with Megan Bauman and Katie Durkee hitting two each, to keep NFA at bay.
Bauman finished with 19 points, four assists and two steals for East Lyme (10-6, 2-2) and Dubreuil had 14 points, five rebounds and five steals. Nadia Tarhini added 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks and Amelia Anglin had a team-high eight rebounds.
Varela, a sophomore guard who gained valuable experience last year as a freshman, as did backcourt mate Sarah Ericson, finished with a game-high 21 points for NFA (8-8, 2-1). Ericson had 12 and Dooley 10.
"We played hard. That's all I ask them to do," NFA coach Bill Scarlata said. "That's a lot of points for us; we have trouble scoring."
NFA, in addition to East Lyme, has played a punishing schedule, including games with state powers Mercy, Hand, Hamden, Stamford, E.O. Smith and Glastonbury. The Wildcats, due to several postponements, have yet to match up with ECC Division I rival New London, the defending divisional champ and currently the state's top-ranked team. Those teams play twice over the next nine days.
"That'll get you better," Scarlata said of the schedule. "Some days I'm happy. Some days I'm not. Without five returning players (from last year, four of whom transferred), we're starting all over. We have a big learning curve."
East Lyme, which lost to NFA 57-45 on Jan. 10, started Tuesday's game strong, putting pressure on NFA with a fullcourt press that resulted in a few quick baskets for the Vikings.
East Lyme led 21-12 in the second quarter on a basket by Bauman, but NFA went on an 11-4 run to pull within 25-23, getting a three-point play and two more free throws by Varela during that stretch.
East Lyme led 27-24 at halftime and 44-43 after three quarters, with East Lyme's Tarhini and NFA's Ericson trading 3-pointers to end the third.
Riley Ellington hit a 3-pointer and Varela engineered a steal and went the length of the court for a layup to start the fourth quarter, giving NFA a 48-44 lead. But East Lyme's Julia Fenn responded with a short jump shot to launch the Vikings' comeback.
"The first time we played them, we just didn't show up," Dubreuil said of NFA. "They're a great team, a well-coached team. Today we tried to push the ball up the court, Meg's handle with this game and Julia Fenn and Amelia helped out. ... We needed that."
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