Girls basketball: Warriors take down Stamford, 74-56

The Wilton girls basketball team came away with a convincing victory over the Stamford Black Knights, 74-56, on Thursday night at the Zeoli Fieldhouse.

The Warriors got huge scoring contributions from two of their leaders, senior co-captains Claire Gulbin and Caroline Sweeny, to lead their team to the win. Gulbin poured in 24 points to lead all scorers and Sweeny was right there with her with 20 points. Both Gulbin and Sweeny drained four 3-pointers on the night.

“This was a big milestone for us to come away with the win. We wanted show that we could play with one of the top teams in the conference and tonight we lived up to what the players and coaches knew that we could achieve this,” said Gulbin. “Caroline (Sweeny) had a big game for us and she was pumped up and that fueled the team. We been playing together for a long time and now things are all clicking together. It’s still early in the season and we are taking them one game at a time.”

Both teams entered the game not having tasted defeat early in the season. Wilton came in a perfect 3-0 and the Black Knights 4-0. The Warriors have also displayed more scoring offense so far this season, averaging 68 points per game, while Stamford averaged 45 points in their four wins.

The game was originally scheduled to be played two weeks ago, but was cancelled due to pending bad weather.

Gulbin opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, but when the Black Knights turned the ball over on their first three possessions, the Warriors gave it right back. Wilton led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Warriors continued their swarming defense, holding the Stamford offense in check. The Warriors kept up the hustle and energy at both ends of the court and looked to push the ball up the court on offense. And when they did their guards ran the floor with their heads up, looking for an open teammate.

Stamford closed to within seven points late in the second quarter, but Gulbin inbounded the ball under the Black Knights basket off the back of a Stamford player, recovering the ball and hitting a two pointer, to put the lead back to nine points.

The Warriors held a 28-19 lead when they took the ball out under their basket with 6.3 seconds left in the first half. They got the ball quickly into the front court and Alexa Hern launched a long three from the corner that found nothing but the bottom of the net for the buzzer-beating score and the 31-19 Wilton halftime lead.

The Warriors came out of the break firing from long range, as they knocked down four 3-pointers, leading to a 14-2 run to start the second half that gave Wilton a 24-point lead.

Stamford wasn’t going to go quietly. The Black Knights closed out the third quarter on a 10-0 run to cut the Wilton lead to 48-32.

Stamford hit a 3-pointer to start the final quarter and cut the Warrior lead to 48-35. Then it was time for Gulbin to take charge. She score eight of Wilton’s next 11 points, including two 3-pointers, to push the home team’s lead back to 20 points, 59-39.

“I said to myself to go out there and be aggressive, get to the hoop and hit shots or get fouled and try to ice the game,” said Gulbin.

The Warriors kept pushing the ball up the floor to stay in their rhythm and not let the visitors make a comeback.

“We relied on our seniors tonight and what a game they played,” said Wilton head coach Rob Coloney. “Coming into the game we talked to the team and said you’ve worked hard in the off-season, you have practices early in the morning and you work hard there, now it’s time to display the purpose of your effort and hard work. They played with tremendous emotion, intensity, fire and showed on quit tonight.”

The coach continued, “We played a great team tonight, one that won the FICAC championship two years ago and was runner-up last year. They still have a lot of talent and I’m proud of how we played tonight. But let’s not forget that it’s a long season and you don’t win championships in December.”