Girls basketball: Big second half powers Wilton to win over Warde

The Wilton girls basketball team put 15 points on the board in the first half against the 8-1 Fairfield Warde Mustangs on Thursday night at Zeoli Fieldhouse. Only four players had points in the half, none from three-point land.

The good thing for the Warriors was that the Mustangs only scored 22 points.

The second half was a different story, with Wilton outscoring Warde 36-16 en route to a 51-38 victory.

With the win, the Warriors improved to 7-3 overall and 6-2 in the conference, while Warde dropped to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in league play.

“We came out with confidence to start the game, but our 3-pointers weren’t falling. We switched to a zone defense late in the second quarter and that helped slow their offense,” said senior Lauren Robertson. “Our guards did a good job getting into the lane and then looking down low for me for the layups.”

Early in the game the Warriors didn’t show much fire. They gave the Mustangs too many second-chance looks, and were falling for the Warde’s ball fakes.

Wilton was down as much as 10 points in the second quarter.

The Warriors came out of the locker room a different team in the second half, and grabbed their first lead with 4:11 left in the third quarter when senior co-captain Caroline Sweeny stole an inbounds pass and hit a short jumper for the 28-27 lead.

The Mustangs regained the lead the next trip down the floor, but when Robertson sunk one of two free throws the game was tied at 29-29 with just less than three minutes left in the period.

Wilton went on a 9-2 run to close out the quarter with a 38-31 lead after three. Zoe Rappaport fueled the run, knocking down the team’s only 3-pointer on the night and followed that up with a two-point bucket. The Warriors outscored Warde 23-9 in the third quarter.

Warde, which only turned the ball over four times in the first half, committed six in the third quarter and four more in the final quarter. Credit that to Wilton stepping up its intensity and converting the turnovers into points at the other end of the floor.

Robertson’s hard work under the basket resulted in a conventional three-point play, locking up the game for the Warriors. Wilton outscored the Mustangs 13-7 in the fourth quarter for the 51-38 final.

“The coach told us at halftime ‘act like we wanted it. You’re a talented group, go out and play your game, don’t let them dictate how you play’. He also drove home the point that we’re not just a three-point shooting and look to get the ball in the lane,” said Robertson.

“We didn’t panic and we took care of the ball. They played with poise and patience and they found their heart in the second half,” said Wilton head coach Rob Coloney. “At halftime I told them we’re not going to get back in the game by just putting up threes. You’re going to have off nights from long range, so adjust and play like you know you can. They came out in the second half and executed what we talked about. We told them (to) get to the basket, move the ball around and trust your game. They gave me a great effort in the second half and played the way I know they are capable of playing.”

Robertson led the Warriors with 14 points, five rebounds and one assist, followed by Sweeny (11 points, 13 rebounds, two steals, one assist) and Liz Breslin (11 points, six rebounds, three steals).

Claire Gulbin contributed eight points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals, and Rappaport had five points, two rebounds and a steal.

Emily Tuin (two points, five rebounds, three assists) and Kaitlin Reif (two rebounds) rounded out the Wilton effort.

Olivia Parisi was the leading scorer for Warde with 14 points, followed by Ava Fitzpatrick with nine points.