Pictured: Coach Rob Smernoff and the Blue Dragons are 17-2 after their 10th straight victory Thursday, 67-36 over CCC South rival Maloney.

By Paul Augeri
middlesexcountysports@gmail.com

Middletown’s up-tempo offense put the pedal down, its defense paid particular mind to Maloney’s top player, and the rest was gravy Thursday night at LaBella-Sullivan Gymnasium.

The Blue Dragons peeled out to a 25-6 lead after one quarter, led by 27 points at the half and cruised to a 67-36 win over Maloney that leaves Middletown on the brink of clinching the CCC South Division championship.

It was the 10th win in a row for the state’s No. 10-ranked team. Middletown (17-2) closes out the regular season with Senior Night on Monday against Lewis Mills (6-10) and has guaranteed itself a home game on Thursday in the CCC tournament.

Shadae Bushay led the Blue Dragons, who went 4-0 this week, with 21 points. Leading scorer Tyah Pettaway added 16 and Tajahnae Brock finished with 11.

Maloney (14-3) had only four players crack the scoring column, with Jaylice Rosario netting a quiet 23.

“We knew they had one exceptional player, so we collectively tried to make everything for her difficult,” Middletown coach Rob Smernoff said. “It was a challenging 23 for her.”

“We also knew from whom they’ve played this year, that Maloney had not faced a team that plays at our pace, so we put an emphasis on being more up-tempo than we go and knew that would be an advantage for us. We played great and basically said, ‘Can you run with us?'”

Knowing the CCC South title is within their reach, Smernoff said, motivated his players to be at their best.

“This group has been knocking on the door the last few years and they want to knock it down know,” he said. “They have been so close to winning a division, I think knowing if they win tonight and win Monday … it’s as focused as I’ve seen them in four years.

“This was really a true collective effort tonight and our pressure was effective. We were just really good on both ends of the court.”

Bushay scored 80 points in the week’s four games. In Tuesday’s win over Sheehan, she posted a triple-double (27 points, 11 rebounds, 10 steals).

“Shadae is one of those kids who helps herself because she’s such a good defender,” said Smernoff. “A lot of her points come off steals or in transition. A lot of kids create their own offense with their own moves and by dribbling. She creates her own offense through her terrific defense. If she ever played football, she’d be an incredible safety.”

MALONEY (14-3)
Amal Bahili 3 0 6, Gracey Massicotte 1 0 3, Nadia Berrios-Lugo 1 0 2, Jaylice Rosario 10 3 23. Totals: 16 3 36.

MIDDLETOWN (17-2)
Shalyn Smith 2 0 6, Jada Bryant 3 0 6, Alexa DeSena 1 0 2, Tyah Pettaway 8 0 16, Jahne Carrenard 1 0 2, Tajahnae Brock 5 1 11, Shadae Bushay 9 2 21, Kaila Torres 0 0 0, Bryonna Bell 0 0 0, Ava Studinski 1 0 3, Cadence Manning 0 0 0. Totals: 30 3 67.

Score By Quarters
Maloney……….6   6 16  8–36
Middletown…25 14 17 11–67

3-pointers: Maloney–Massicotte 1; Middletown–Smith 2, Bushay 1, Studinski 1.

In other girls basketball games Thursday:

Valley Regional 49, Cromwell 46

CROMWELL (12-3)
Adela Cecunjanin 1 3 6, Jessica Grodzicki 7 0 17, Nevaeh Clark 5 1 12, Grace Mikan 0 0 0, Abigail Burgess 0 0 0, Hope Greaves 0 0 0, Cameryn Hickey 1 1 3, Brynn Kovacs 2 0 4, Kayla Nappi 1 2 4, Leah Pepe 0 0 0, Annika Peters 0 0 0, Sophia Santangelo 0 0 0. Totals: 17 7-19 46.

VALLEY REGIONAL (15-2)
Ava Cunningham 0 0 0, Abby Bradbury 6 2 16, Bitzy Klomp 2 0 4, Liz Allen 3 1 7, Olivia Cunningham 2 1 6, Siena Schaller 2 0 4, Lily Grow 5 0 12, Regan Grow 0 0 0, Rubee Cecchini 0 0 0. Totals: 20 4-15 49.

Score By Quarters
Cromwell…..6 13 15 12–46
Valley Reg…12 17 14 6–49

3-pointers: Cromwell–Grodzicki 3, Clark 1, Cecunjanin 1; Valley–Bradbury 2, L. Grow 2, O. Cunningham 1.
Up next: Cromwell at North Branford, Friday, 7; Valley vs. Morgan, Friday, 6.

Westbrook 58, Hale-Ray 32

WESTBROOK (8-9)
Jami Sacco 8 0 21, Sadie Susi 4 0 10, Alex Zanzalari 2 0 5, Adriana Stranieri 7 0 14, Leticia Pires 2 0 4, Gianni Salisbury 1 0 2,  Emily Downie 1 0 2. Totals: 25 0 58.

HALE-RAY (0-16)
Brook Praskieicz 10 4 24, Kenzie Purdell 1 0 2, Julie Anderson 1 0 3, Gabby Aguilera 1 0 2, J. Haentjens 0 1 1. Totals: 13 5 32.

Score By Quarters
Westbrook…..21 10 18 9–58
Hale-Ray………6  8  6  11–32

3-pointers: Westbrook–Sacco 5, Susi 2, Zanzalari 1; Hale-Ray–Anderson 1.
Up next: Westbrook vs. Old Saybrook, Friday, 7; Hale-Ray at Old Lyme, Friday, 6:30.

Fitch 49, Old Saybrook 26

FITCH (11-6)
Rita Sefransky 5 0 12, Katelyn Cervini 1 0 2, Dreana Singoleton 3 1 7, Grace Jenkins 0 1 1, Laura Johnson 2 0 4, Mariette El Khoury, 5 0 13, Nora Casey 1 0 2, Bridgit O’Leary 1 1 3, Meleeya Robbins 1 3 5. Totals: 19 6 49.

OLD SAYBROOK (3-14)
Breleigh Cooke 2 0 6, Alex Ling 1 0 3, Nora Kulmann 1 0 2, Beldina Feratovic 1 0 2, Sophia Barker 2 0 4, MacKenna Cooke 0 0 0, Sanai Baker 0 0 0, Kylie Lake 2 0 4, Cassie Johnson 1 1 3, Meghan Wilcox 0 0 0, Ella Hagelston 1 0 2. Totals: 11 1 26.

Score By Quarters
Fitch……………6 20 14 9–49
Old Saybrook..7 2 10 7–26

3-pointers: Fitch–El Khoury 3, Sefransky 2; Old Saybrook–B. Cooke 2, Ling 1.
Up next: Old Saybrook at Westbrook, Friday, 7.

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