Wilton rally falls short in 40-36 loss to Danbury

Trailing most of the game and by 10 points early in the final quarter, the Wilton High girls basketball team closed within one point of visiting Danbury with 54 seconds left Monday night.

But the Warriors couldn’t make up any more ground, as Danbury came away with a 40-36 win at the Zeoli Fieldhouse.

Down 32-22 after Tiana Rogers opened the fourth quarter with a basket for Danbury, the Warriors began their comeback. A basket by freshman Elizabeth Copley was followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Sophia Strazza, constituting an 8-0 run that narrowed Danbury's lead to 32-30 with 4:17 remaining.

Danbury’s Susana Almeida stopped the bleeding for her team with a 3-pointer to get the lead up to five points, but Zoe Rappaport answered with a basket and then made one-of-two foul shots to get the Warriors back within two points again at 35-33.

After Rogers' basket gave Danbury a four-point lead, Rappaport drained her third 3-pointer of the night to make it 37-36 with under a minute to play.

Danbury (14-5 overall) was able to get the ball down low and Ty’Lynn Ith was fouled while missing a shot. Ith hit one of two free throws for a 38-36 Danbury lead.

With a chance to tie the game or go ahead, Wilton (5-14) turned the ball over with 19 seconds remaining. Susana Almeida then broke free for a layup to seal the win for Danbury.

The Warriors' determination made for a competitive contest against a Danbury team that is now 13-1 over its last 14 games.

“We came out more relaxed, but with more fire; [we] played with confidence and poise,” said Strazza. “We played well in our last game against Trumbull and I think the way we played that night gave us confidence to come out and play hard tonight. We were very patient tonight, and even when we got close at the end I feel the pressure didn't get to us.”

Strazza is a senior who will be playing her final game this Wednesday.

“Tonight was the first time that it hit me that my high school basketball career is almost over,” she said.“I just kept thinking to myself that the next game will be the last time I dribble a basketball.”

Both teams got off to slow starts, with Wilton holding a 6-5 lead after the first quarter on the strength of two Strazza 3-pointers. Danbury finally got on track midway through the second quarter and went ahead for good at 13-12 with 4:20 remaining in the opening half.

The Hatters ended the second period on a 10-2 run for a 19-14 halftime lead, as Wilton could muster only one bucket over the final four minutes of the second quarter.

In the third quarter, Wilton closed to within two points at 24-22 after a Rappaport trey, but the Hatters ended the period on a 6-0 run for the 30-22 lead after three periods.

Strazza and Rappaport led the Warriors with 12 points each, followed by eight points from Copley.

Danbury was led by Rogers with 12 points and Susana Almeida and Ith with 10 points each.