Girls hoop: Stamford routs Wilton in FCIAC quarterfinals
Less than two weeks after his team's 57-28 regular-season loss to Stamford, Wilton girls basketball head coach Rob Coloney knew the Warriors would need to play a near-perfect game to win the rematch in the FCIAC quarterfinals on Saturday.
An upset, however, wasn't in the cards. Second-seed Stamford took an early six-point lead and romped to a 51-28 victory over seventh-seed Wilton at Kuczo Gym in Stamford. The Black Knights (18-2) will now play third-seed Trumbull in the semifinals on Tuesday night at Fairfield Ludlowe.
Wilton (11-10), meanwhile, will await the start of the Class LL tournament. The Warriors are the reigning state champs in that division.
“The girls gave an exceptional effort, didn’t back down to their [the Black Knights'] physical play, and never gave up,” said Coloney. “We knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but I felt we were up to the challenge. The team came out and executed the game plan we drew up for them, however we were clearly over-matched tonight. We struggled again on offense, as we have several games this year, and we didn’t help ourselves by turning the ball over too many times.”
Neither team got off to a good start, as the game’s first points weren’t scored until just over three minutes had elapsed in the opening quarter. Wilton turned the ball over on its first three possessions, and Stamford couldn’t find the bottom of the net on its first three trips down the floor.
Karen Brosko’s basket with 4:55 to play in the first quarter gave Wilton a 2-0 lead, and — following a bucket by Stamford's Tiana England — Sarah Fitzgerald's two free throws put the Warriors ahead, 4-2. But Stamford's Alexa Kellner scored off a turnover to tie the score, and back-to-back three-pointers from Camille Martinez and Kellner helped put the Black Knights in front, 10-6, at the end of the period.
The two quick three-pointers seemed to wake up Stamford's offense, and the Black Knights began the second quarter with a 7-0 burst to take a 17-6 lead. The run was capped by a four-point play from Martinez, who was fouled while hitting a three-pointer and sank the ensuing free throw.
Stamford went on to outscore the Warriors, 19-8, in the second period, opening a 29-14 halftime lead at the break. Stamford, which at times had three players 6'1" or taller on the floor, created defensive problems for the visitors. With one big in the middle to close down the lane and two others on the perimeter to get in the way of passes and three-point shots, the Wilton offense wasn’t left with many quality scoring opportunities.
Three more three-pointers in the third quarter helped the Black Knights put the game away in the third quarter, as the lead grew to 45-19 by the end of the period.
“We didn’t get the job done tonight, but this team achieved so much this season [that] you can’t just look at tonight’s results," said Coloney. "To be in the conference playoffs with a team that came into the year lacking seasoned players shows me how far we have come as a team. We got them to believe in the system and believe in themselves."
Notes: Sophomore Caroline Sweeny led the Warriors with seven points. Fitzgerald finished with six points and Brosko had five points.
For Stamford, England led all scorers with 16 points, followed by Martinez with 14 points.
The crowd got to see an odd occurrence in the third period at the expense of the three-man officiating crew. After Stamford scored on a free throw, it proceeded to inbound the ball and head up the court going the wrong way. Wilton gained possession and seemed confused as to which direction to go, as the second half had just started. The officials finally stopped play and corrected their mistake, awarding the ball to Wilton but not putting time back on the clock.