Wilton girls hoop team cruises in state opener

This one was over early.

Erin Cunningham opened the game by sinking a basket and two three-pointers to jump-start the Wilton High girls basketball team on its way to a 61-25 rout of 27th-seed Naugatuck in a Class L state tournament first-round game Tuesday night at the Zeoli Field House.

The sixth-seeded Warriors will now face 11th-seed Pomperaug in a second-round game Friday night at 7 in Wilton. Pomperaug advanced by defeating 22nd-seed Hillhouse, 74-70, in another first-round game Tuesday.

Cunningham’s scorching start propelled Wilton to an 8-2 lead over Naugatuck. The Greyhounds could manage only one basket from the field in the first period, and that bucket came with just 12 seconds to play in the quarter. The visitors were four-for-four from the free-throw line.

Wilton held a 17-6 advantage at the end of one, with Cunningham scoring 10 points in the period.

Cunningham and Cori Cannavino each connected for two baskets in the second quarter to give the home team a 29-11 lead at halftime.

“We wanted to come out and focus on fundamentals," said Cunningham. "We used this game to work on some things and get a win under our belt. We’ve had a good season and we want to make a run in the states.”

Erica Meyer, who had only two points in the first half, got hot to start the third quarter for Wilton. Meyer scored her team’s first 10 points of the second half to give the Warriors a commanding lead at 39-14.

Christina Holmgren ended the third period with two baskets and hit one of two free throws, as Wilton led 47-14 after three quarters. Holmgren netted two more two baskets in the paint to begin the final quarter, and the Warriors were well on their way to the 36-point victory.

“I am overall happy with the performance of my team tonight,” said Wilton head coach Jaclyn Porco, who took out her starters midway through the final quarter. “It’s hard to keep the team focused and motivated in a game like this.

"The team executed the things in the game that we worked on in practice," added Porco. "Sara Dickinson and Cori Cannavino worked hard in practice this week and then brought that same energy to the floor tonight. Christina Holmgren also gave me quality minutes and contributed on offense.  I hope this game helps us get past the loss (to Danbury) in the FCIAC finals and we can move on from here."

Cunningham finished with a game-high 17 points for Wilton. Meyer had 14 points, while Holmgren had nine points and Cannavino finished with eight points.

For Naugatuck, Emma Colucci had nine points, Angelina Piccirllo eight points and Andrea Mercer seven points.