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BETHEL -- For much of Monday night, the Bethel High girls basketball team had a shot at winning its season opener.

Bethel's aggressive defense forced turnover after turnover from the Sacred Heart offense, but the two teams remained neck-and-neck until the fourth quarter, when Bethel could not withstand Sacred Heart's 22-15 rally. The Wildcats ultimately fell 59-50.

"The first three quarters weren't pretty," Sacred Heart coach Ryan Sullivan said.

The two teams swapped leads, staying within two points of each other for much of the night. Bethel collected many of its points on turnovers while Sacred Heart capitalized on free throws. The Hearts went 14-for-18 from the charity stripe in the first three quarters, while Bethel managed to sink just 7 of 15.

"I told them, games can be won or lost at the free throw line," Sullivan said.

For the Wildcats, senior Danielle Scolpino went 6-for-8 from the foul line and collected 19 points.

"She does so much for the team on and off the court," Bethel coach Christin Morgatto said.

Scolpino's talent on the court caught Sullivan's eye early in the game.

"In the fourth quarter we really stepped up our defense," Sullivan said. "We had to shut her down."

In addition to a stronger defense, Sacred Heart also flexed its scoring muscles. The young team relied on junior Jennifer Massicotte and sophomore Jenna LaRusso, who scored 24 and 15 points, respectively.

Sacred Heart's youngest player, 13-year-old Dionne Parker, contributed eight points and used her 5-foot-11 stature to collect rebound after rebound.

As the game wore on and Sacred Heart gained steam, Bethel's Elizabeth Thoung remained consistent throughout.

"Liz has a great finesse inside," Morgatto said. "She can play inside and out."

Thoung, a senior, finished with 12 points.

BETHEL (0-1)

Morgan Osiecki 2 0-0 4 Erin Morton 1 1-2 1 Danielle Scolpino 12 6-8 19 Autumn Sorice 5 2-8 8 Nicole Stavola 2 0-0 4 Casey Oberhammer 0 0-2 0 Shannon Buckley 1 0-0 2 Elizabeth Thoung 6 0-2 12. Totals: 29 9-22 50.


Kelsey O'Donnell 4 0-1 8 Jennifer Massicotte 16 10-12 24 S'ri Johnson 2 1-4 3 Dionne Parker 7 6-10 8 Liz Finkenzeller 1 1-4 1 Jenna LaRusso 8 3-4 15. Totals: 38 22-35 59.

BETHEL 11 11 13 15--50

SACRED HEART 14 10 13 22--59

3-point goals: B--Scolpino; SH--Massicotte 2, LaRusso 2.