Class LL girls hoop finals: Wilton looks to finish with state title

Finish.

That one word has become a mantra for the Wilton High girls basketball team this season.

So when the Warriors take the court Saturday evening (6:15 p.m.) in the Class LL finals at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville against South Windsor, they will look to finish — as state champions.

Wilton (24-2), the second seed, is playing in the state title game for the first time in program history. South Windsor (26-1), the top seed, is back in the state finals for the second straight season after losing to Lauralton Hall, 68-53, in last year's Class LL championship game. The Bobcats also lost in the Class L finals in 1977 and 1978.

Wilton advanced to the finals with tournament wins over Newington (69-20), Cheshire (62-38), Stamford (49-40), and Mercy (55-54).

South Windsor got there with victories over New Milford (69-24), Glastonbury (72-41), Greenwich (69-66), and Norwich Free Academy (54-51). South Windsor’s only loss this season came in its conference tournament championship game, as it fell to Farmington, 61-52.

Wilton head coach Jaclyn Woitkowski Porco believes her team is ready for Saturday’s championship game.

"They are in it, they want it, and if you saw the way they have been approaching practice this week and the focus that is throughout all 15 players, we are in for a good game on Saturday," she said. "I feel as if their approach is now or never ... which it should be because it is now or never. One game to bring it all home.

"The biggest change in the team this year is that they realize to be successful the whole team has to play their role," added Woitkowski Porco. "The girls have learned the appropriate times to be unselfish and selfish. They very much believe that all 15 players must be ON to get the win.  It is not just the five on the court. They are a sisterhood ... sisterhood is what has come from this late-season play.”

The Wilton starting line-up includes four seniors who have played hoops together for a long time and have been chasing a championship for the last several years. The four are co-captains Erin Cunningham, Erica Meyer, Haley English and Makenna Pearsall.

Cunningham, who became the program’s all-time scoring leader (1,097 so far) this season, averages 15.8 points per game to lead the Warriors. Cunningham has hit for 59 three-pointers this year (42%) and collected 7.6 rebounds per game. She had a season-high 33 points in a 92-52 win over Greenwich.

Meyer is the team’s leading rebounder with 8.5 boards per game and is the second-leading scorer with 14 points per contest. Meyer scored 24 points in Wilton's semifinal win Tuesday night over Mercy. At 6'3", Meyer also makes opponents think twice before driving into the lane.

English is the team's floor general and primary ball handler. She shoots 41% from three-point land and has averaged 7.4 points per game. English is also the team’s vocal leader.

Pearsall does a lot of everything and is the player who usually draws the task of locking down the opposition's biggest scoring threat. She chips in with 4.4 rebounds per game — including some huge games on the boards — and adds 4.1 assists per contest. Pearsall had nine rebounds and seven assists in the semifinal win.

Rounding out the starting five is junior Karen Brosko. Brosko, who averages 7.9 points per game, is coming off an impressive 14-point performance against Mercy in the semifinals. She also contributes 4.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists and steals per game.

If the Warriors need help from the bench, they first look to junior Christina Holmgren. Holmgren averages 5.3 points per game and scored a career-high 24 points in a regular-season win against Masuk. Holmgren can often provide a spark when she comes into the game and has been a key when Meyer has gotten into foul trouble.

As for the her team's opponent, South Windsor, Woitkowski Porco said: "I do believe we match up well. We know they are very quick and like to run the floor as do we. In order to win we will clearly have to make some adjustments. We do have a height advantage, but to take advantage we need to take care of the ball and deliver. We have to be smart in every possession and take each one ... one at a time. The team with the least amount of turnovers will win this game."