Pictured: Coginchaug’s Alyssa Woodward (12) works through a pick on the defensive end Monday night against Lyman Hall. (Photo by Paul Augeri)

By Paul Augeri
middlesexscountysports@gmail.com

DURHAM – Playing in front of fans again for the first time in nearly two years was exciting in itself.

Better than that, Coginchaug girls basketball coach Chris Watson said, was the Blue Devils’ game-changing performance in the fourth quarter on Monday night.

Coginchaug shook off a disappointing shooting performance over the first three quarters with a bunch of big baskets in the final eight minutes, and the Devils’ defense held Lyman Hall to just one field goal during that stretch for a 42-32 season-opening victory.

“The fourth quarter was how I expect us to play the entire game,” Watson said, “based on our preseason, based on our scrimmages, based on our personnel. That was more of the brand of game I expect out of us throughout the season.”

Coginchaug junior center Mia Poturnicki (15) battles for position on the offensive end in the first half. Poturnicki had a double-double in the Blue Devils’ opener. (Photo by Paul Augeri)

Junior forward Chloe Shafir led Coginchaug with 13 points and junior center Mia Poturnicki had a superb all-around game with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

Shea Barron scored a game-high 18 points for the Trojans of the Southern Connecticut Conference, but she came up empty in the fourth quarter when Lyman Hall needed her output the most.

If Coginchaug did not struggle from long range as it did and converted just a handful of missed layups, this likely would have been a different game.

“I don’t what happened early on,” Watson said. “In general, things weren’t falling. I anticipate us being a much better 3-point shooting team than that, between Shafir and (Allison) Sambor and (Alyssa) Woodward. It was just a cold night for us.”

Tied at 18 at halftime, Lyman Hall held a 25-22 with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter when the Blue Devils surged into the lead for good. Two big buckets from Sambor – her only points of the game to go with seven rebounds – and a Serena Fournier basket on the fast break put Coginchaug up 30-27 before Barron’s jumper with 30 seconds left made it a 30-29 game heading to the fourth.

Shafir was 4 for 4 at the free-throw line to extend Coginchaug’s lead to five in the first 3:21 of fourth quarter. Coginchaug’s trap defense created a tie-up forced by Katie Farr, and on the ensuing inbounds play Farr fed Poturnicki for an easy score underneath for a 36-29 lead.

After Callie Chordes gave Lyman Hall its only field goal of the quarter with 3:38 to go, the teams traded empty possessions before Shafir stole the ball and Alyssa Woodward scored in transition for a 38-31 Coginchaug lead with 2:14 left.

Woodward assisted on another Poturnicki basket underneath to put the game away at 40-31 with 53 seconds remaining.

Shafir, who was very good on the defensive end and also finished with seven rebounds, created her offense by driving to the basket.

“Chloe can score in any way she wants to,” Watson said. “It’s a matter of them falling and we need them to. And Mia was good, too, around the basket. She’s the biggest girl on the court and that’s what we need her to do.”

The Blue Devils’ three-game homestand to start the season continues Thursday against Shoreline Conference opponent Old Lyme.

“It was hard not to be excited about (playing in front of fans),” Watson said. “I said to Tom (Lyman Hall coach Tom Lipka) and to the girls before the game, as serious as we took it last year, it felt like a scrimmage each game, just a scrimmage vibe without fans. This was definitely fun and exciting. I’m glad we were able to pull out (the win) our first time back in front of people.”

LYMAN HALL (0-1)
Macy Buccherie 1 0-0 3, Lauren Cretella 0 0-0 0, Callie Chordes 1 0-0 2, Shea Barron 7 2-2 18, Callie Casulla 1 1-4 3, Alynn Martin 1 0-0 2, Mercedes Cestaro 0 0-0 0, Sophia LaPlant 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 3-8 32.

COGINCHAUG (1-0)
Allison Sambor 2 0-0 4, Katie Farr 1 0-0 2, Alyssa Woodward 2 0-0 5, Mia Poturnicki 5 2-2 12, Chloe Shafir 4 4-4 13, Sophie Farr 0 0-0 0, Serena Fournier 1 2-5 4, Allison Strang 0 2-4 2. Totals: 15 10-15 42.

Score By Quarters
Lyman Hall….9   9  11  3–32
Coginchaug…8 10 12 12–42

3-pointers: LH: Barron 2, Buccherie 1; C: Shafir 1. Woodward 1.

In other girls basketball action Monday:

Cromwell 39, Newtown 29

CROMWELL (1-0)
Grace Mikan 2 0-0 6, Brynn Kovacs 0 0-0 0, Jessica Grodzicki 3 1-2 8, Nevaeh Clark 1 2-3 4, Adela Cecunjanin 3 4-4 12, Cameryn Hickey 2 4-5 9. Totals: 11 11-14 39.

NEWTOWN (0-1)
Chloe O’Connell 1 4-5 7, Kristen Reisert 3 0-0 6, Isabella Gerace 2 1-2 5, Isabelle Caron 0 0-1 0, Alex Bradley 2 4-6 8, Molly McCleary 0 1-2 1, Bridget McCleary 1 0-0 2. Totals: 9 10-16 29.

Score By Quarters
Cromwell…12 9 7 11–39
Newtown……7 5 8  9–29

3-pointers: Cromwell: Mikan 2, Cecunjanin 2, Grodzicki 1, Hickey 1; Newtown: O’Connell 1.
Of note: Hickey led the Panthers with 9 rebounds and Clark had 8. Cecunjanin blocked 4 Newtown shots.

East Hampton 71, Fishers Island (NY) 19

EAST HAMPTON (1-0)
Amber Murphy 4 0 8, Olivia DeMartino 5 0 11, Liana Salamone 6 3 15, Delaney Russell 2 0 4, Jackie Russell 7 0 15, Jordan Murphy 2 0 4, Katie Ireland 3 0 8, Ally Jacobsen 1 0 2, Liz MacDonald 1 0 2, Gabby Wiesner 1 0 2. Totals: 32 3 71.

FISHERS ISLAND (0-1)
Constance Toldo 1 3 5, Madeleine Hadfield 2 0 4, Ellie Bloethe 1 4 6, Maddie Lusker 2 0 4, Lily Esposito 0 0 0, Micaiah Rutherford 0 0 0. Totals: 6 7 19

Score By Quarters
East Hampton….23 20 16 12–71
Fishers Island……3   3  3  10-19

3-pointers: EH: Ireland 2, J. Russell 1, A. Murphy 1.

Coventry 55, Hale-Ray 34

HALE-RAY (0-1)
Brooke Praskievicz 3 6-10 12, Kayla Bartolotta 1 0-0 2, Nicole Sikorski 1 0-0 2, Gabby Aguilera 1 1-2 3, Makenzie Purdell 2 0-0 5, Jackie Goethe 1 0-0 2, Julie Anderson 3 0-0 8. Totals: 12 7-12 34.

Score By Quarters
Hale-Ray…..4 4 13 13–34
Coventry….16 17 15 7–55

3-pointers: Hale-Ray: Anderson 2, Purdell 1.

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