Northwest Catholic sophomore Brianna Lebrun’s scoring and rebounding paced the Lions to a win over Hall and a season sweep of the Warriors Thursday night.
By Marlon Pitter. Photos by Hunter Marotto
Brianna Lebrun didn’t waste an inch of her size advantage over a smaller Warriors team.
The sophomore forward maintained a towering paint presence for Northwest Catholic (15-4), tallying a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds in a 66-46 road win against Hall (6-13) Thursday night in West Hartford.
“From the beginning, we told her, ‘With this team, we have a size advantage,’” said Northwest Catholic head coach Jenniqua Bailey. “The main focus was getting her fed the ball the whole time and just finishing strong. She had a huge size advantage the whole night.”
While Lebrun was effective all game, she scored nine of the Lions’ 28 fourth-quarter points to take a two-possession game out of reach for the Warriors. Morgan Murphy and Caroline Rutenberg joined Lebrun in double figures with 13 and 10 points respectively.
“Our coach just gives the mentality every day before every game to do our best, work our hardest, and I just really tried to make that present today,” said Lebrun.
Leading 41-34 after an early timeout in the fourth quarter, Lebrun scored in the paint and made the ensuing free throw to put Northwest Catholic ahead by 10 with 6:23 remaining.
The Lions’ offense continued to operate as they went on a 23-7 run, taking a 64-41 lead at the 1:07 mark. Despite sitting a significant portion of the game, Erin Carucci came off the bench late in the quarter and made three consecutive three-pointers to cap Northwest Catholic’s emphatic run.
Hall senior Olivia Deslauriers led her squad with 24 points – 16 in the second half – as she tried to will the Warriors back into the game.
Deslauriers notched consecutive baskets late in the third quarter to cut the Warriors’ deficit from nine to five, making it 37-32. The Lions added a free throw to go up 38-32 heading into the fourth.
The teams played at an even, back-and-forth pace to start the game. The first quarter featured seven lead changes and a tie, but Hall led 17-16 after a pair of Deslauriers free throws with 23.7 seconds left.
Lebrun sparked Northwest Catholic to open the second quarter, scoring six points during an 8-0 run for the Lions. The Warriors cut the margin down to three but trailed 29-24 at halftime.
Northwest Catholic started the third quarter on a 5-0 run to take a double-digit lead and kept Hall at bay throughout the second half.
Hall head coach Brittany Huggins noted Deslauriers as a positive influence not only against the Lions but during a trying season as well.
“She’s been a leader,” Huggins said. “It’s been a difficult time. … She’s definitely been a leader for us and definitely a bright spot, I would say, throughout this challenging time.”
Both teams will host senior night matchups against divisional opponents to close out their regular seasons. Northwest Catholic will take on Southington (15-4) Monday night, while Hall welcomes crosstown rival Conard (14-5) Tuesday night.
Both the Lions and the Warriors look to avenge losses to their respective opponents.
“One, I told them it’s a redemption game because we played pretty horrible the first time in Southington,” Bailey said. “They really needed to end this one strong and carry it over into Monday, so I’m proud of them [for] that. … Obviously, it’s a big game for us. It’s a lot of emotions going on on senior night, but we still have to lock in and stay focused.”
Besides managing the emotions of the crosstown rivalry game, Huggins looks for her team to do against Conard what it didn’t against Northwest Catholic: “Staying disciplined on defense, boxing out, and rebounding.”
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!