Pictured: Middletown senior Tyah Pettaway celebrates with family after scoring her 1,000th career point during Monday night’s win against Lewis Mills. (Photo by Paul Augeri)

By Paul Augeri
middlesexcountysports@gmail.com

MIDDLETOWN – The first 22 points scored by Middletown senior Tyah Pettaway on Monday night looked rather effortless. It was her next bucket that took some work and a whole lot of patience.

After four attempts, she finally got it.

In the first minute of the fourth quarter, Pettaway’s runner off the glass from six feet out found the bottom of the cylinder, securing the 1,000th point of her Blue Dragons career and setting off wild cheers from the home crowd and her teammates.

Pettaway finished with a game-high 26 points as Middletown defeated Lewis Mills 64-36 to clinch the CCC South championship.

Tyah Pettaway lets a perimeter shot fly in the third quarter against Lewis Mills. (Photo by Paul Augeri)

“It means a lot to me,” said Pettaway, who will go on to play at the University of Bridgeport, an NCAA Division II program. “Scoring 1,000 was one of my first goals (as a player). It’s a really good accomplishment. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices, waking up at 5, 6 in the morning during the summers to work out. It just took a lot of hard work.”

The Blue Dragons extended their winning streak to 11 games and completed the regular season at 18-2, matching the winningest 20-game stretch in Rob Smernoff’s 15 years as coach.

Senior Shadae Bushay, who’s also bound for Bridgeport, added 19 points for the Blue Dragons. They outscored Mills 26-10 in the first quarter and led 44-21 at halftime behind 19 points from Pettaway and 15 from Bushay.

Pettaway swished a 3-pointer from the top of the circle with 5:02 left in the third quarter for her 999th career point. By that time, the cheers from the energized crowd at LaBella-Sullivan Gymnasium, which included Pettaway’s extended family, had intensified to shouts of “Tyah! Tyah!”

Pettaway forced a couple of shots from the perimeter and was pulled for the last 60 seconds of the third quarter. The break allowed her and her teammates to collect themselves.

The milestone basket materialized when Pettaway found space to penetrate from the left side to just outside the paint. The game was paused to acknowledge the moment.

“I think it was very evident in the third quarter that our team was just trying to get her that 1,000th point, which is really unselfish of them,” Smernoff said. “What I told them in the huddle before the fourth quarter started, ‘She scored 22 when you were all just playing basketball. When you suddenly try to force the ball to her, now no one can score. (Mills knows) what you’re trying to do, just play your game.’

“But I’m just so happy for her. She’s so deserving.”

Middletown, ranked 10th last week in the GameTimeCT writers poll, will play a first-round Central Connecticut Conference tournament game at home on Thursday. A win would put the Blue Dragons in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Enfield High, the host site of the tournament.

LEWIS MILLS (6-13)
Lauren Searle 1 1-2 3, Jordan Anderson 2 0-0 4, Riley Mills 2 1-2 6, Abriana Wroblewski 0 0-0 0, Cassie Martinotti 1 0-0 2, Lillian Martineau 5 2-2 12, Abby Jankoski 2 0-0 4, Sami Nestor 1 0-0 2, Maggie Lagana 1 0-0 3. Totals: 15 4-6 36.

MIDDLETOWN (18-2)
Bryonna Bell-Perry 0 0-0 0, Alexa DeSena 1 0-0 2, Tyah Pettaway 12 0-0 26, Kaila Torres 3 0-0 6, Shadae Bushay 9 0-0 19, Jada Bryant 1 1-2 3, Shalyn Smith 1 1-2 3, Ava Studinski 1 0-0 3, Jahne Carrenard 0 0-0 0, Cadence Manning 1 0-0 2, Tajahnae Brock 0 0-0 0. Totals: 29 2-4 64.

Score By Quarters
Lewis Mills…..10 11 8  7–36
Middletown….26 18 7 13–64

3-pointers: Lewis Mills–Mills 1, Lagana 1; Middletown–Pettaway 2, Bushay 1, Studinski 1.

In other girls basketball games Monday:

Mercy 70, Lauralton Hall 46

LAURALTON HALL (4-14)
Morgan White 1 0-0 3, Catherine Bosse 4 4-4 15, Maura Bosse 2 0-0 5, Lauren Marsden 1 0-0 2, Lila Pinho 5 3-5 13, Maddie DiNatali 3 0-0 8. Totals: 16 7-9 46.

MERCY (16-4)
Avery Kohs 2 0-0 4, Sophie Hedge 5 3-6 14, Kate Donlan 1 0-0 2, Ava Giansiracusa 7 3-4 21, Melina Ford 2 1-2 5, Winnie Ciccarello 1 0-0 3, Lily Schoonmaker 4 0-0 8, Caelyn McMahon-Egan 2 0-0 6, Mercedes Artaiz 2 3-6 7. Totals: 26 10-18 70.

Score By Quarters
Lauralton Hall….6 21 11   8–46
Mercy……………13 18 28 11–70

3-pointers: Lauralton–C. Bosse 3, DiNatali 2, White 1, M. Bosse 1; Mercy–Giansiracusa 4, McMahon-Egan 2, Hedge 1, Ciccarello 1.
Up next: Mercy awaits seeding, pairing in Southern Connecticut Conference tournament.

East Hampton 47, North Branford 45

NORTH BRANFORD (14-6)
Callie Holzer 5 0 11, Braeden LeBeau 7 0 14, Keana Criscuolo 6 1 15, Delaney Norman 2 0 5, Marissa Ricardo 0 0 0, Natalia Lucibello 0 0 0. Totals: 20 1 45.

EAST HAMPTON (17-2)
Amber Murphy 0 0 0, Olivia DeMartino 2 3 8, Liana Salamone 7 4 20, Delaney Russell 0 0 0, Jackie Russell 4 1 11, Jordan Murphy 1 0 2, Kate Ireland 0 0 0, Madison Yorker 3 0 6. Totals: 17 8 47.

Score By Quarters
North Branford…..10 15 8 12–45
East Hampton……12 5 11 19–47

3-pointers: North Branford–Criscuolo 2, Holzer 1, Norman 1; East Hampton–Salamone 2, J. Russell 2, DeMartino 1.
Up next: North Branford in Shoreline Conference tournament; East Hampton vs. Achievement First, Wednesday, 6.

Cromwell 50, Morgan 46

CROMWELL (14-4)
Grace Mikan 2 0-0 6, Cameryn Hickey 1 2-5 4, Jessica Grodzicki 7 0-0 16, Nevaeh Clark 6 0-0 12, Adela Cecunjanin 3 2-5 8, Kayla Nappi 0 0-0 0, Brynn Kovacs 2 0-1 4. Totals: 21 4-11 50.

MORGAN (9-9)
Caeley Ayer 5 6-6 18, Katie Martin 4 1-5 9, Ava Johnson 4 2-3 11, Victoria O’Neill 0 0-1 0, Sofie Passante 2 0-0 6, Ava Zirlis 0 0-0 0, Alana Zirlis 0 0-0 0, Eva O’Sullivan 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 9-15 46.

Score By Quarters
Cromwell…11 11 16 12–50
Morgan…….2 18 17   9–46

3-pointers: Cromwell–Mikan 2, Grodzicki 2; Morgan–Ayer 2, Passante 2, Johnson 1.
Up next: Cromwell vs. Valley Regional, Tuesday, 6; Morgan vs. H-K, Tuesday, 7.

Coginchaug 38, Westbrook 20

WESTBROOK (9-10)
Jami Sacco 4 3-4 13, Sadie Susi 1 0-0 2, Alex Zanzalari 0 0-0 0, Adrianna Stranieri 2 1-2 5. Totals: 7 4-6 20.

COGINCHAUG (10-9)
Hannah Nielsen 2 1-2 5, Serena Fournier 2 0-0 4, Katie Farr 4 0-0 8, Alyssa Woodward 2 1-2 5, Mia Poturnicki 3 0-1 6, Allison Strang 0 2-4 2, Chloe Shafir 3 2-2 8. Totals: 16 6-11 38.

Score By Quarters
Westbrook….4 2   7  7–20
Coginchaug..9 8 10 11–38

3-pointers: Westbrook–Sacco 2.
Up next: Coginchaug vs. Old Saybrook, Wednesday, 7; Westbrook at Cromwell, Wednesday, 6.

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