Girls basketball: Big start propels Wilton past Central, 54-30

The Wilton High girls basketball team did just what it’s supposed to do when you play a 1-13 opponent — get out in front early, cruise to a win and get your starters some rest.

The Warriors did that Friday night at the Zeoli Fieldhouse, coming away with a 54-30 victory over the Bridgeport Central Hilltoppers.

The win puts the Warriors record at 9-6 overall and 7-5 in the conference. The team has already qualified for the Class LL state tournament. Coming into Friday’s game, the Warriors were tied with Greenwich for the eighth and final FCIAC playoff spot.

The Warriors go head-to-head with Greenwich next Friday night in Greenwich, but first have to face the top-seeded Trumbull Eagles (10-1 in the conference) on Tuesday in Wilton at 7.

“We have to come out and be focused in both those games and demonstrate that we want to win. If we don’t, our postseason chances will take a big hit,” said head coach Rob Coloney. “When we apply what we know we can do on the court, we have success. We just will have to do that for the entire 32 minutes of the game.”

Wilton opened Friday’s game with a 15-0 run and the win was never in jeopardy. Coloney was able to sub out all of his starters, giving them a break as the team is back on the court Saturday for its third game in four days, at Cheshire. Coloney used a long bench to spread out the playing time, which included court time for three JV players added to the game roster.

“We wanted to work on some things in tonight’s game, but also get other players in the rotation,” said Coloney. “Overall I was happy with the way we played tonight and ran several good set plays that we needed to work on. I still feel we need to come out and play more physical and faster to get better offensive production. Things we work on and talk about in practice doesn’t always get transitioned to the court and that seems to be taking more time to fix.”

Five Warriors scored points in the first quarter as the home team took advantage of eight Central turnovers. Claire Gulbin led the early push with three straight two-point baskets. Central’s lone basket of the period was a 3-pointer by Jessica Clarke with one minute to play in the period. Wilton led 15-3 after one.

In the second quarter, the Warriors outscored the Hilltoppers 15- 10 to take a 30-13 lead into halftime. Twice in the period Wilton got the lead to as much as 23 points, the first time at 28-5 on a Anna Cocoros bucket, and then again at 30-7 after a Jessica Highland basket.

Down by double digits for most of the game, the Central players still put forth a good effort and kept working, even though the score was not in their favor. The Hilltoppers made one more 3-pointer than the Warriors did on the evening, draining four 3-pointers to three to Wilton’s three.

Central kept pace with the Warriors in the third quarter as Coloney made wholesale player substitutions.  Wilton led 44-23 after three periods.

The Warriors’ young squad committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter, but with the game out of reach, Wilton cruised to the 54-30 win.