Making the long drive across the state to New London, and taking on one of the state’s top teams, was a tall task for the Wilton High girls basketball team.

The Warriors gave the state’s third-ranked team a good fight, before New London pulled away in the second half for a 58-38 victory in the first round of the Class LL state tournament on Tuesday night.

Wilton finished the season 12-10.

“We did hang in there for a while,” said head coach Rob Coloney. “I think at halftime everybody at the game was thinking this could go either way.”

The Warriors faced a New London team that had spent much of the season ranked first in the state, and that had reached the state finals twice in the last three years — winning the Class M title in 2014.

The third-seeded Whalers (21-2) jumped out quickly, leading 17-5 after one quarter.

“They’re extremely, extremely quick, and very big. In the beginning, we weren’t ready for their speed,” said Coloney, whose squad pulled together in the second quarter and outscored the Whalers 13-8 to cut the lead to 25-18 at halftime.

But three turnovers to open the third quarter, all leading to New London baskets, put the Warriors behind by double digits and they just couldn’t generate enough offense to climb back.

The Whalers extended the lead to 12 points, 39-27, after three quarters and pulled away from there for the win, although Coloney said the final 20-point margin of victory didn't reflect how close the game was.

The Whalers were led by their two Division I-bound seniors, as guard Jade Lucas had 17 points and 6’2” center India Pagan had 12 points and 22 rebounds.

Claire Gulbin led Wilton with 12 points, including three 3-pointers, while Emily Tuin had nine points and Lauren Robertson seven points. Meaghan Downey and Alexa Hirn each scored three points, and Caroline Sweeny and Elizabeth Breslin added two points each. Hirn and Tuin each had a 3-pointer.

Despite the loss, Coloney said, the Warriors proved they belonged in the tourney.

“I wanted the girls to show they were more than their seed. Our kids did that last night. We just didn’t score enough points,” he said.