Girls basketball: Warriors down Brookfield with big fourth quarter

The Wilton High girls basketball team used a 16-2 run to start the fourth quarter to blow open a close game en route to a 56-42 win over the Brookfield Bobcats Thursday night at the Zeoli Fieldhouse.

Co-captains Caroline Sweeny (eight points) and Claire Gulbin (six points) led the team’s fourth-quarter push.

The Warriors led 27-21 at the half, but the Bobcats came out of the break and got the Wilton lead down to one. Three consecutive baskets by the Bobcats’ Jenna Joshi got the visitors within three at 33-29 and a 3-pointer by Kaitlin Farias got Brookfield to within 33-32 late in the third quarter.

Meaghan Downey followed up her own miss for a bucket and Lauren Robertson hit a basket and was fouled. She converted the free throw to give the Warriors a little breathing room at 38-33.  But as time expired in the third quarter, Farias knocked down another 3-pointer just as the buzzer went off, cutting the Warrior lead to 38-35 after three. The Bobcats hurt their chances to take the lead in the game, as they turned the ball over seven times in the period.

Sweeny penetrated the lane for two buckets to start the final quarter and the Warriors were poised for a big run. A conventional three-point play from Gulbin and two more baskets by Sweeny put Wilton up by 12, 49-37, midway through the fourth quarter. A basket by Downey and a 3-pointer by Gulbin and the Warriors had their biggest lead of the night, 54-37.

“If I can get inside and get to the rim, with my height I should be able to score,” said Sweeny. “The coach told us to get it together and play the way we are capable of playing. We had good success in the paint tonight as Lauren (Robertson) and I had open looks under the basket all game. We have to see the floor better and keep our heads up running the floor to get baskets close to the hoop. This was a huge win for us, as this put us one game away from clinching states.”

The Warriors opened the game on a 6-0 run, and when Gulbin drained a 3-pointer after a Bobcat turnover, Wilton posted a 15-4 lead. Gulbin also had success driving to the basket with two scoop layups. Wilton led 19- 9 after the first quarter.

Although Wilton only scored eight points in the second quarter, it held a double-digit lead for most of the period. Robertson carried the team with six points in the second, but the Bobcats finished strong with a 6-0 run to cut the Warrior led to 27-21 going into the break.

Wilton was pressing the Bobcats inbounds passes, forcing 11 first-half turnovers. The Warriors couldn’t capitalize on them. They were getting to the rim, but missed several easy layups. The Warriors held their ground on defense, causing Brookfield into long possessions working the ball around the perimeter, looking for the open shot. The first half also saw three Wilton starters get hit with two personal fouls each, forcing Wilton head coach Rob Coloney to go to his bench

“I’m proud for the character the team showed tonight. They responded to adversity, stayed calm and poised,” said Coloney. “We had a very intense halftime talk. We left a lot of points out there, missing some easy baskets. I told them that they need to find their way and to play selfless basketball and things will fall into place.”

Gulbin finished with a game-high 17 points, while Sweeny had 14 points, and Robertson 13 points. Robertson was five-for-six from the foul line.

Joshi and Farias both poured in 16 points apiece for Brookfield.

With Thursday night’s win, the Warriors record stands at 7-5 overall, 5-4 in the conference. The Warriors are back on the court tomorrow night in Stamford, as they play Trinity Catholic at 6.