Wilton rides wave to CIAC Girls Basketball final

Wilton coach Keishaun Macklin during the Class LL girls basketball semifinals against Enfield at New Britain High School on Friday.

Wilton coach Keishaun Macklin during the Class LL girls basketball semifinals against Enfield at New Britain High School on Friday.

Will Aldam / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW BRITAIN — Often overlooked and counted out by some, the Wilton girls’ basketball team is rewriting its story.

The Warriors won just two games a season ago with many integral juniors opting out of the season, so when Keishaun Macklin was hired as the new coach this season, nobody knew what to expect.

The return of a full season brought with it the return of players who had opted out. Wilton has surpassed all expectations.

The Warriors qualified for the FCIAC tournament for the first time in four years, but suffered a quarterfinal-round two-point loss to Ridgefield. The best however, was yet to come.

Wilton knocked off No. 22 Trumbull in the opening round and proceeded to upset No. 5 Fairfield Ludlowe in overtime to advance to the quarterfinal. The Warriors took down No. 13 Hillhouse 44-34 to advance to the semifinal.

On Friday, No. 12 Wilton traveled to New Britain to take on No. 1 Enfield in the Class LL state tournament semifinals.

Despite a lackluster first quarter, Wilton was able to secure the win against top seeded Enfield 48-37 for its first state final appearance since it won in 2015.

“This is a huge statement,” Senior guard Leah Martins said. “Nobody had us being here. Nobody had us winning the second game of the tournament against Ludlowe, and here we are in the finals.”

Martins led all scorers with 20 points, including six 3-pointers (half of which came in the final quarter). Senior forward Elizabeth Copley contributed 12 points to the winning effort, going 10-12 from the free-throw line.

“This means everything for us, especially because eight seniors didn’t play last year and now, we are all back for the first time since maybe third grade,” Martins said. “It was very difficult, but we really get along with our new coach. He was able to pull the team together and make it fun this year, which is really important.”

Things looked bleak for Wilton at the end of the first quarter, as Enfield shut out the Warriors for the final six minutes of the quarter on an 8-0 run.

“I think it was jitters in that first quarter, it is a big moment,” Macklin said. “Lopsided 12 seed against a one seed, but in the huddle I asked ‘why not us?’ and told the girls to stick together.”

Trailing 8-1, Wilton opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run of its own, and outscored Enfield 21-6 for a 22-14 halftime lead.

“We were kind of throwing the ball away, but after that we clicked,” Martins said. “We started knocking down threes and layups, and basically all of our free throws which gave us a good lead.”

Wilton never relinquished its lead, but Enfield narrowed the gap to bring the score back within five points at the end of the third quarter, 31-26.

With 4:30 remaining, Enfield trailed by just two points, but three fourth quarter 3-pointers by Martins clinched the bid to Mohegan.

“She is unconscious,” Macklin said. “When she is on, she is pretty tough to defend. She goes left and right well, she can stop on a dime, and she is a talented player. And basketball isn’t her first sport, go figure.”

Wilton (17-7) will take on No. 2 East Hartford (21-2) for the Class LL championship at Mohegan Sun on either March 19th or 20th.

“It is a wonderful feeling, these girls did it,” Macklin said through tears. “They gave it 110% and that is what you need. It is a lot, there are a lot of emotions.”

Enfield (21-2) sees its season come to an end after tough losses in the quarterfinal round of the CCC tournament and semifinal state tournament.

“I think we had 14 points in the first half, that is uncharacteristic for us,” Enfield coach Jay Gaucher said. “It has been a long emotional day for our group, but I am so proud of them. We didn’t execute great today offensively, but I am so proud of them. I think the world of this team.”

WILTON 48, ENFIELD 37

WILTON 1 21 9 17 — 48

ENFIELD 8 6 12 11 — 37

WILTON - Catherine Dineen 1 0 1-2 3, Katherine Umphred 1 0 4-4 6, Leah Martin 1 6 0-0 20, Mia Sommer 0 0 1-2 1, Ashleigh Masterson 3 0 0-0 6, Elizabeth Copley 1 0 10-12 12.

ENFIELD - Alyssa Hosig 0 1 0-0 3, Alyssa Rossignol 3 0 6-8 12, Sydney Marshall 1 0 1-2 3, Amyah Rosado 3 2 3-4 15, Megan Marcotte 2 0 0-0 4.

RECORDS: Wilton 17-7; Enfield (21-2)