MILFORD -- Lauralton Hall is somewhat of a rarity in today's high school girls basketball landscape in that the Crusaders, on any given night, have a half dozen players capable of scoring in double figures.

It's a big reason why Lauralton Hall's been ranked in the Top 10 of the state polls the entire season.

And if Lauralton Hall can play defense on a consistent basis like it did Friday night, brushing aside Notre Dame-Fairfield 63-27, the Crusaders should be a team playing deep into March.

"I don't really have to sell (defense) to them that much," Lauralton Hall coach Amanda Forcucci said. "They're competitive kids by nature. They have goals, the postseason, and they know if they want to get there and do well there, they have to work at it. One of the things we stress is D."

Lauralton Hall's offense wasn't too shabby either, with four players -- Emma McCarthy, Carly Fabbri, Michelle DeSantis and Olivia Levey -- each scoring in double figures. McCarthy and Levey were the Crusaders' joint leading scorers with 15 points apiece.

"We were really pumped up in the first half," said DeSantis, who scored 13. "We're a particularly good team in transition and that comes from defense. When we get steals we try to push the ball as much as we can."

Notre Dame, which came into the game with only one loss, could barely muster a shot against Lauralton's stifling match-up zone in the first half. On top of that, the Lancers committed 15 turnovers in the first 16 minutes, many leading to easy baskets on the other end for the Crusaders.

Many of the Lancers were visibly battling flu-like symptoms, including leading scorer Jovan Kingwood, who was held to two points, 11 off her average. It wasn't an excuse Lancers coach Eric DeMarco wanted to use.

"We had the flu, but in the first half, based on my scorekeeper, we had more turnovers than shots," he said. "I started in 1988 and I said to the kids at halftime, I don't know what to tell you. I just showed (the scoreboook) to them, because I've never had that happen before."

Junior Briana Mann led Notre Dame with nine points.

Up 12-5 after the first quarter, Lauralton Hall broke the game open with a 13-0 run powered by six points from Levey. The St. Francis, N.Y.,-bound senior's play was encouraging following a slow start to the season, due in part to a pulled muscle in her leg. Levey showed a soft touch under the hoop and displayed some nimble post moves as her teammates looked for her early and often in the post.

"She couldn't stop and turn and was only going 50, 60 percent," Forcucci said of her star forward. "Recently she's been able to go full speed and cut hard like last year.

"She can play."

Notre Dame was more competitive in the third quarter with point guard Amber James back in the game after early foul trouble. However, Lauralton Hall used a 13-0 run to start the fourth to make the final score as lopsided as it ended up.

It was the second straight loss for the Lancers, who began the season 7-0 before falling to Kolbe Cathedral on Wednesday. DeMarco said the problems can be corrected in practice if his players want to put in the work.

"It's kind of like one of those vacations where everybody is in the car, you're on the East Coast and driving to the West Coast and we took the best part road trip first and we hit a bump in the road," DeMarco said. "We can solve a lot of our problems if the girls put their mind to it and want to solve the problem."

Meanwhile Lauralton Hall has now won two straight by a combined 87 points following a loss to top-ranked Mercy on Dec. 28.

"You learn a lesson from that, every day in practice needs to be 110 percent, not just days when `I' feel like it," said Forcucci about the loss to Mercy. "It has to be every day."; @CTPostCardillo


Amber James 2 0-0 6 Jovan Kingwood 1 0-0 2 Aly Furgiuele 1 0-0 2 McKenzie Stone 0 0-0 0 Briana Mann 3 3-7 9 Brianna D'Arcangelo 0 0-0 0 Tekarah Coward 1 0-0 2 Alicia Berard 1 0-0 2 Katie Edwards0 0-0 0 Jerlisa Thomas 1 0-0 2 Nakia Mabin 0 0-0 0 Janiya Ebron 1 0-0 2 Totals: 12 3-7 27


Emma McCarthy 7 0-0 15 Maggie Salandra 2 0-2 4 Lauren Sell 0 0-0 0 Carly Fabbri 5 0-0 12 Michelle DeSantis 3 7-8 13 Maureen Connolly 0 0-0 0 Bianca Robertson 1 0-0 2 Emily Bonzagni 0 0-0 0 Emily Menendez 0 0-0 0 Olivia Levey 7 1-1 15 Amethyst Barzee 1 0-0 2 Totals: 28 8-11 67

ND-FAIRFIELD..................................5 4 12 6--27

LAURALTON HALL.........................12 15 15 21--63

3-pointers: LH--McCarthy, Fabbri 2