Orange Live Sports Writer

Sponsored by Pat Cardozo of Coldwell Banker

The East Hartford tandem of Shanta Lammie and Michela Hunt proved to be too much for the Amity girls’ basketball team to handle Tuesday night in Woodbridge.  Lammie, a 5-foot 8-inch senior forward spent most of the night camped down low on the block, where she dropped in a game-high 20 points and also hauled in seven rebounds. Hunt, a slashing 5-7 senior guard was just as unstoppable as she repeatedly drove the lane to tally 18 points. With those 38 combined points, the 18th ranked Hornets defeated 15th ranked Amity 46-41 in the first round of the CIAC Class LL tournament.

According to losing Coach Michelle Martinik, “Our defense really hurt us tonight. We really struggled, especially in the first half. We were worried about their ability to hit threes and that allowed No. 13 (Hunt) to drive the lane so easily and often. She is very quick and No. 23 (Hammie) proved to be very strong down low.”

Facing strong defensive pressure from Hunt and the other Hornets, The Lady Spartans committed 18 turnovers as compared to only eight for East Hartford. Many of Amity’s miscues were unforced and led directly to Hornet baskets.

“We definitely hurt ourselves with all those turnovers,” Martinik added. “We just didn’t play our type of game tonight.”

The game got off to a slow start. It was scoreless until Amity’s Chloe Brinton netted a lay-up with 5 minutes, 23 seconds to go in the first quarter. The Hornets missed their first nine shots and did not find the basket until Shannon Walsh drove the ball home with 4 minutes, 34 seconds left. Trailing 8-4 following two more Lammie scores from down low, Brinton sandwiched a pair of last minute lay-ups around a Lammie drive but the Hornets still held a 10-8 lead after eight minutes. The lead shifted back and forth during the second quarter, but Rachel Nevolis’ mid-range jump shot broke a 19-19 tie and gave the Lady Spartans a 21-19 advantage at the break.  While the Lady Spartans canned eight of their 18 shots during the first half (44.4%), the visitors were good on only eight of their 25 tries (32%).

Brinton opened the second half with a three pointer that gave her team its biggest lead of the night (24-19), but consecutive drives from Lammie and Hunt soon cut that margin back to a point (26-25). When Michaela Schmitt swished a jay and Brinton added a free throw, the Lady Spartans went back on top by four points (29-25) at the 5:41 mark of the third quarter. East Hartford quickly countered with two Hunt drives down the lane and a freebie from Walsh to go back on top 30-29 at 3:56. The back and forth third stanza ended with Janae Graham’s trey with 49 seconds to go that put the hosts in front 33-32 but that lead was short-lives as Hunt again drove the lane successively to give her team a 34-33 lead with 34 seconds to go. It would prove to be a lead that East Harford never gave up.

When Lammie fed the ball inside to Hannah Oney, who dropped the ball into the hoop with 2:05 left to play, the Hornets opened up a 40-37 advantage. While Amity was scoreless for nearly three minutes, Hunt swished a pair of charity tosses with a minute to go and the Hornets extended that lead to five points (42-37).

Although Schmitt missed a three ball with 54 seconds to go, Amity did get back within a point (42-41) on consecutive field goals from Graham and Brinton. After Brinton missed an easy lay-up, the Hornets grabbed the rebound. Seeing the final seconds tick off the clock Amity was forced to stop it by fouling. That move backfired as Hammie, Hunt, and Walsh closed out the contest by netting free throws.

Noting that her team ended up with a hefty 34-22 edge off the glass, Martinik said, “We did rebound well, but not enough. East Hartford got too many easy shots where there were no rebounds.”

Brinton closed out her junior season with 14 points and five rebounds.

Following its wobbly first half shooting, East Hartford canned 10 of its 16 second hand shot to finish  up 18 of  41 (44%), as compared to Amity’s seven of 21 in the second half  (33%) and 15 of 39 (38%) for the game.
Martinik said, “Even though we lost tonight, we had a great season and ended up with 13 wins (along with nine losses). That more wins than we had last year and we also won the Housy (division championship). I’m very proud of what my girls accomplished this winter.   Only Kristen Post and Sarah Rives graduate so next year, we return a lot of girls who have gained a lot of experience and confidence.”

The 14-7 winners advance to Friday’s second round contest at second-seeded Lauralton Hall of Milford, starting at 7 p.m.