Pictured: Jackie Russell, shown earlier this season, led East Hampton with 17 points in Thursday’s 41-28 win over Valley Regional. (Photo by Paul Augeri)

East Hampton’s bid for a third consecutive Shoreline Conference girls basketball championship remains alive and well after the host Bellringers defeated Valley Regional 41-28 on Thursday night.

Sophomore Jackie Russell scored a game-high 17 points and freshman guard Liana Salamone added 14 in East Hampton’s 11th victory in a row and 14th in 15 games. The Bellringers also avenged their only defeat — by the identical count of 41-28 — to Valley back on Dec. 21 in Deep River.

“It was a really good team win tonight,” East Hampton coach Shaun Russell said. “We had to match the toughness and intensity of Valley and I think we did that. Defensively, we played very connected and rebounded the ball well. They make you work hard on offense to get good looks and we had to stay focused with the ball and find the open areas of the floor within our offense.”

East Hampton led by as many as 15 points twice, at 21-6 late in the second quarter and 29-14 with 3:26 to go in the third quarter. The period ended with Salamone hitting a shot from 18 feet just before the buzzer sounded to give her team a 31-18 advantage.

Valley made a run at the lead early in the fourth to slice its deficit to seven, at 31-24, when Abby Bradbury scored on a drive to the basket. The second-chance hoop with 4:36 left also came with Salamone on East Hampton’s bench with her fourth personal foul.

After Salamone checked back in less than two minutes later, the Bellringers took off again.

Olivia DeMartino hit two free throws and Russell took over from there. She drained a 3-point shot and then followed a Valley bucket with a jump shot and two free throws to push the lead back to 14 (40-26) with 1:22 remaining in the game.

“Jackie made some good decisions with the ball and made some big shots,” said Shaun Russell, who also singled out senior starter Madison Yorker for showing leadership throughout the game.

“I really liked our togetherness and our aggressiveness, and I thought we played with good focus and intent on both ends,” Russell added. “It was a big challenge for us and I thought the team handled it well with contributions from everyone.”

Bradbury was the only Warriors player to score in double figures, with 13 points, on a night when the team struggled to make shots.

The game was moved up a day because of Friday’s forecast of sleet and snow.

The Bellringers travel to Cromwell on Tuesday to play the Panthers at 7pm, while the Warriors are scheduled to host Fitch of Groton on Saturday at 5:30.

VALLEY REGIONAL (11-2)

Ava Cunningham 2 0 4, Lily Grow 1 0 2, Abby Bradbury 4 4 13, Olivia Cunningham 2 0 4, Liz Allen 2 0 5, Siena Schaller 0 0 0, Bitzy Klomp 0 0 0. Totals: 11 4 28.

EAST HAMPTON (14-1)
Liana Salamone 5 2 14, Delaney Russell 0 0 0, Jackie Russell 6 3 17, Jordan Murphy 1 0 2, Madison Yorker 2 0 4, Amber Murphy 1 0 2, Olivia DeMartino 0 2 2. Totals: 15 7 41.

Score By Quarters
Valley Regional…..5 5 8 10–28
East Hampton…..6 17 8 10–41

3-pointers: Valley–Bradbury 1, Allen 1; East Hampton–J. Russell 2, Salamone 2.

Elsewhere around the county Thursday:

Cromwell 38, Coginchaug 33

CROMWELL (11-2)
Grace Mikan 1 0-0 2, Cameryn Hickey 1 2-2 4, Jessica Grodzicki 5 0-1 11, Nevaeh Clark 6 1-4 13, Adela Cecunjanin 3 2-4 8, Brynn Kovacs 0 0-0 0, Kayla Nappi 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 5-11 38.

COGINCHAUG (5-8)
Katie Farr 4 0-0 8, Allison Strang 3 1-1 8, Alyssa Woodward 1 0-2 2, Mia Poturnicki 0 0-0 0, Chloe Shafir 3 3-4 9, Hannah Nielsen 1 0-0 2, Sophie Farr 1 0-0 2, Serena Fournier 1 0-2 2. Totals: 14 4-9 33.

Score By Quarters
Cromwell……12 4 8 14–38
Coginchaug….5 10 9 9–33

3-pointers: Cromwell–Grodzicki 1; Coginchaug–Strang 1.
Of note: Katie Farr and Strang had 8 rebounds apiece for the Blue Devils. Cecunjanin had a game-high 13 boards for the Panthers and Clark grabbed 10. Grodzicki dished out 5 assists.
Up next: Cromwell vs. East Hampton, Tuesday, 7; Coginchaug vs. Hale-Ray, Monday, 6.

Middletown 61, Wethersfield 32

MIDDLETOWN (13-2)
Shalyn Smith 4 4 13, Jada Bryant 3 6 12, Alexa DeSena 0 0 0, Tyah Pettaway 8 1 19, Jahne Carrenard 0 1 1, Tajahnae Brock 0 2 2, Shadae Bushay 4 0 8, Kaila Torres 1 2 4, Bryonna Bell 1 0 2, Ava Studinski 0 0 0, Cadence Manning 0 0 0. Totals: 21 16 61.

WETHERSFIELD (9-6)
Maia Berdebes 1 0 2, Sophie Adams 0 0 0, Vanessa Venditti 3 0 7, Bella Tomanino 0 1 1, Alexa Grenier 2 0 4, Alison Wagner 1 0 2, Ella Alger 2 0 6, Mackenzie Mori 4 0 10. Totals: 13 1 32.

Score By Quarters
Middletown……17 13 13 18–61
Wethersfield….10   3 10   9–32

3-pointers: Middletown–Pettaway 2, Smith 1; Wethersfield–Alger 2, Mori 2, Venditti 1.
Up next: Middletown at Bristol Eastern, Monday, 6:45.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Xavier 50, Hamden 45

XAVIER (8-6)
Colby Ciampi 3 0-1 6, Vik Vakati 4 4-4 14, Anthony Parker 9 1-3 21, Aidan Driscoll 2 5-7 9, Mark Schoonmaker 0 0-2 0. Totals: 18 10-17 50.

HAMDEN (5-11)
Emanuel Boles 5 0-0 11; DeAndre Coardes 3 0-0 8; Caleb Harris 2 0-0 5; Elijah Holder 4 1-2 9; Derrell Redd 5 1-2 12. Totals: 19 2-4 45.

Score By Quarters
Xavier……..12 14 14 10–50
Hamden…..20   3 18   4–45

3-pointers: Xavier–Parker 2, Vakati 2; Hamden–Coardes 2, Harris, Boles, Redd.
Up next: Xavier at Newington, Saturday, noon.

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