FAIRFIELD -- All season long, Lauralton Hall and Pomperaug appeared on a collision course to decide the SWC girls basketball championship.

It didn't quite work out that way, thanks to No. 3 Notre-Dame Fairfield, which upset second-seeded Pomperaug 58-45 Wednesday night in the league semifinals played at the Lancers' Rielly Auditorium.

Meanwhile, Lauralton Hall survived to play in the final -- barely -- as the top-seeded Crusaders held off No. 4 Kolbe Cathedral 43-37 in the nightcap.

It means the Crusaders will take on the Lancers Friday night at Bunnell for the title. When the teams played in Milford on Jan. 4, Lauralton Hall won 63-27.

"I'm very happy for our seniors who have never experienced this before," said Lancers coach Eric DeMarco, who reaches the league final for the first time in six season on the Notre Dame sideline. "We had a great workout (Tuesday). We knew we had to be prepared to play a very, very talented team."

Down 27-21 in the first minute of the third quarter, the Lancers rattled off a 13-0 run to take a 34-27 lead. It gave the Lancers the breathing room they'd need the rest of the way, despite finishing with 28 turnovers.

Amber James led all scorers with 26 points, including a huge 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter, that put the Lancers ahead 49-39.

Notre Dame then did enough down the stretch to hold off the Panthers' comeback attempt, which hit a speed bump when leading scorer Gabby Holness (17 points) fouled out with more than three minutes remaining.

"We've had a lot of tight games," DeMarco said. "We've been good enough. Tonight that helped us."

Jovan Kingwood added 18 points for Notre Dame, while James, Briana Mann and Tekarah Coward each had 10 rebounds.

Pomperaug finished with a night to forget all-around on offense. The Panthers benefitted early from their tenacity on the offensive glass, but ultimately were undone by poor shooting, including 2-for-26 from 3-point range and 14 missed foul shots.

Morgan Metcalf also had 17 for Pomperaug.

"We missed 16 (sic) something free throws and gave up 19 offensive rebounds," Pomperaug coach Joe Fortier said. "You cut both of those in half, we're in the game. Those are inexcusable errors on our part."

Lauralton Hall, used to winning most SWC games by 20 or 30 points, fought off another game effort from Kolbe Cathedral. Their regular-season game was a six-point decision on Feb. 1 -- the closest Crusaders' result in league play.

This was another nip-and-tuck affair the entire way. Neither team led by more than six points until the Crusaders pulled away in the closing minutes.

The Lauralton players were on the edges of the gym watching Pomperaug's loss before warming up, so avoiding an upset was fresh in their minds.

"That was one of our themes going in, let's not be another upset," said Carly Fabbri, who led the Crusaders with 11 points along with Michelle DeSantis and Olivia Levey. "Kolbe was out for blood. We beat them at the Shehan Center, so they wanted revenge."

The Cougars nearly had it, leading as late as two minutes to go in the third, but couldn't sustain enough offense down the stretch to spring the night's second upset.

Jasmyne Fogle paced Kolbe -- which didn't score a field goal in the fourth quarter -- with 12 points. Niajeha Green added eight.

"For the most part, we did OK, but we just didn't get it done," Kolbe coach Lisa Hodges said. "We need to execute for the full 32 minutes, not the first 29, which has been the case both times we played them."

Lauralton Hall, which went 0-for-13 from 3-point range, took the lead on a pair of free throws by Maggie Salandra late in the third and didn't relinquish it. DeSantis made enough layups in the fourth to keep the Crusaders ahead for good.

"Both teams wanted it tonight," Lauralton Hall coach Amanda Forcucci said. "Games like this, you get tight or get the jitters. Shots you usually make don't fall, but that's when the heart, the competitive will and the defense comes in."

mcardillo@ctpost.com; @CTPostCardillo

SWC semifinal at ND-Fairfield


Amber James 9 5-9 26 Jovan Kingwood 7 4-6 18 Aly Furgiuele 0 0-0 0 McKenzie Stone 0 1-6 1 Briana Mann 2 0-0 4 Alex Danas 1 0-0 3 Tekarah Coward 0 2-2 2 Jerlisa Thomas 1 2-4 4 Nakia Mabin 0 0-0 0 Totals: 20 14-27 58


Morgan Metcalf 7 1-2 17 Hannah Metcalf 1 0-0 2 Gabby Holness 4 9-18 17 Sydney Malaspina 0 0-0 0 Katelyn Perrotti 1 1-4 3 Sarah Theriault 2 2-3 6 Lauren Rubinstein 0 0-0 0 Olivia Bonnanzio 0 0-0 0 Totals: 15 13-27 45

ND-FAIRFIELD 14 7 17 20--58

POMPERAUG 16 9 8 12--45

3-pointers: NDF--James 3, Danas; P--M. Metcalf 2

Fouled out: P--Holness

Highlights: NDF--Mann, James and Coward had 10 rebounds each.


Kiara Epps 2 1-2 5 Denisha Gardner 0 0-0 0 Keyonni Adams 3 0-1 6 Jasmyne Fogle 4 4-6 12 Niageha Green 4 0-0 8 Nia Fogle 1 0-1 3 Kayla Weaver 1 1-2 3. Totals: 15 6-12 37.


Emma McCarthy 2 2-6 6 Maggie Salandra 0 4-4 4 Carly Fabbri 5 1-4 11 Michelle DeSantis 5 1-4 11 Bianca Robertson 0 0-0 0 Olivia Levey 4 3-4 11. Totals: 16 11-22 43.

KOLBE CATHEDRAL 14 13 6 4--37

LAURALTON HALL 13 14 8 8--43

3-pointers: KC--N. Fogle