Youth basketball: Wilton teams to play in FCBL title games
Several Wilton Basketball Association travel teams advanced to Fairfield County Basketball League championship games after playoff wins last weekend:
Wilton 22, Trumbull 13
Wilton 22, Milford 10
The Wilton girls fifth grade basketball team, sponsored by Wilton Sport Shop, moved to 19-1 on the season after beating Trumbull, 22-13, and Milford, 22-10. The two playoff victories propel Wilton into the A division championship this weekend against 12-1 New Rochelle. The Warriors, whose only loss of the season came against New Rochelle, are highly enthusiastic about the rematch.
In the first game of the weekend, the Warriors trailed 9-7 heading into the fourth quarter after uncharacteristically sloppy play. Fortunately, they found their rhythm with eight minutes left to play and pulled away for their third victory of the season over Trumbull. In Sunday’s semifinal, the Warriors’ vaunted defense smothered Milford. After a 10-2 first-quarter lead, the Warriors cruised to victory.
The Warriors team, led by coach Cricket Luke and coach Dorian Melkonian, consists of Ashleigh Masterson, Maddie Dineen, Caroline Hage, Siena McDermott, Molly Hancock, Riley Fitzgerald, Lauren Moe, Anisa Burrows, Kaitlyn Sullivan and Marin Burke.
Wilton 32, Stamford 24
Wilton 33, Weston 23
The Wilton seventh and eighth grade girls team, sponsored by JoyRide, picked up victories in two tough playoff contests to advance to the championship game. Wilton’s depth and defensive toughness allowed it to pull away in the fourth quarter of both games.
In its 32-24 victory over Stamford, Caroline Harvey dominated on both ends of the floor, picking up 10 points in an otherwise balanced offensive attack, with Katie McMorris chipping in five points among eight other scorers. Abby Dolan, Jamie Leventhal and Kathryn Cronin were strong on the glass, and Morgan Lebek flew all over the floor playing tenacious defense and picking up numerous steals.
Kathleen ‘the putback machine’ Lamanna led the way in a 33-23 victory over a much taller Weston team, with eight points scored in the paint. Brooke Bohacs added seven points, none bigger than her fourth-quarter 3-pointer that sparked the Warriors’ late run to put the game away. Olivia Rossi’s slashing drives to the basket opened up the floor on offense, while Allie Giller’s quickness was one of the keys to the defense. Erin McMorris was a monster on the boards, while Mairead Kehoe keyed the press, which was pivotal in Wilton’s victory.
Wilton 40, New Fairfield 35
Wilton 32, Orange 24
The Wilton eighth grade girls travel team completed a very successful weekend of games to its their quest for the championship of the Class B West division.
The Warriors qualified for their bracket’s championship game on Sunday at Danbury High School.
The Warriors faced a top ranked team from New Fairfield on Saturday and came out on top with a 40-35 victory. Highlights included strong ballhandling skills by guards Christina O’Sullivan, Marygrace DelliSanti and Fiona O’Brien, which resulted in several key assists to Lily Umphred, Callie Judelson and Caitlin Greeff for points underneath the boards. The girls battled through a tight game. New Fairfield kept the pace fast yet Wilton was able to overcome through the help of Meghan Koziolkowsky, Grace Cahill and Alexis Castaldi applying pressure on the ball to keep Wilton in the game and assure the victory.
Sunday saw the Warriors continue onto their bracket’s semifinal game against Orange. The team faced a tough first quarter and was down by over six points in the first four minutes of play yet came back fast to within two points thanks to a nice three-point shot by Fiona O’Brien. After a halftime break and the Warriors down 14-12, the girls came out fighting hard and began their rally to victory. Callie Judelson and Caitlin Greeff crashed the boards for rebounds and clutch 3-pointers were hit by Marygrace DelliSanti, her sixth for the weekend, along with a strong three from Christina O’Sullivan to overcome the deficit and go ahead 28-17 in the fourth quarter. Lily Umphred, Fiona O’Brien, Grace Cahill and Alexis Castaldi assisted with big rebounds and foul shots and the quick thinking of ballhandler Meghan Koziolkowsky held their opponent tight into the final minutes of play, thus ensuring the 32-24 semifinal victory. Terrific sideline cheering was provided by Riley Eaton, who is out due to injury.
Wilton 31, Madison 19
Greenwich Select 34, Wilton 29
Last Saturday in Trumbull, the Jersey Mike’s fifth grade boys came ready to face Madison. The first half was all Wilton, only giving up two points. Luke Umphred led scoring with six points and added six rebounds. Peter Reyes notched all stats with four points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. The half ended with Wilton dominating 19-2. The third quarter continued Wilton’s way with production from Todd Woodring (four points, four rebounds, three steals). Anderson Campbell had a dominant defensive day by adding three points, three rebounds, three steals and three blocks. In the fourth quarter Madison dug in and began a 10-point rally. Facing a tenacious opponent, Luke DiRocco kept his cool and drew a technical foul. This actually proved to stall the momentum and Wilton cruised to a 31-19 quarterfinal playoff win.
The next day Wilton faced Greenwich Select at Chelsea Piers. The teams traded early baskets, but Wilton trailed 9-4 after the first quarter. Wilton’s momentum picked up in the second quarter, but a few ill-timed turnovers left the Warriors down at the half, 23-16. The third quarter was a bit messy by both sides, as many fouls and turnovers led to only nine combined points, bringing the score to 28-20. Being a man down all weekend with Jack Minnich home sick, the Wilton team somehow found the energy to make a run. Patrick Heffernan bashed into the paint to steal a rebound from the bigs, leading to a 3-pointer by Levi Kaplan (nine points, three rebounds). Henry Roy tallied two steals and four rebounds with the added possessions leading to two assisted layups for Max Jarvie (six points, three rebounds). This offensive production got the game to within 27-28. The boys caught a few bad breaks at the end with a few in-and-outs, fouls and turnovers, and wound up losing 34-29.
Wilton 44, Shelton 33
Wilton 53, Madison 42
The Wilton 56ers, led by the steadfast coaching of John Redding and Terrance Ditimi, pocketed two decisive wins last weekend to send the team to the final round of the Fairfield County Basketball League tournament.
On March 2, the 56ers headed into their first tournament game, facing a strong Shelton team. The 56ers played tight defense, led by Andrew Roth (8 points, 8 steals), Spencer Liston (7 points, 6 rebounds), Bailey Finn (11 points, 8 rebounds), Andre Wiest (4 points, 5 rebounds) and Michael Wall, but could not get their offense to heat up in the first quarter, as they trailed 9-2. During the second quarter, Wilton came alive, energized by Michael Byrnes (8 points sinking two key 3-pointers, assisted by Harrison Lent. Wilton’s relentless defense held Shelton to only four points in the second quarter. Down the stretch, Finn and Liston hit big free throws and Wiest’s fast break layup gave Wilton the lead at the end of the half, 16-13.
Wilton’s offense stayed on target in the second half, as the teams traded baskets throughout the third quarter. Lent and Jefferson Mitchell (2 points, 3 rebounds) turned up the defensive pressure, while Colin Tsai (4 points) scored with a strong drive to the basket. The quarter ended with Wilton on top 30-29. Victory was sealed in the fourth quarter, with the 56ers limiting Shelton to just four points, led by Finn in the paint and peskiness from Roth, Tsai, Wiest and Liston on the perimeter. Offensively, the balanced attack concluded an incredible team effort with scoring drives to the basket from Tsai, Roth, Byrnes and Liston. Mitchell, off an offensive rebound, and Finn (assisted by Wiest) also added key buckets to take control of the game and finish it off with a 44-33 victory.
The 56ers took to the court again last Sunday against a scrappy team from Madison. The 56ers’ tenacious defense, which has overwhelmed teams all season, proved too much for Madison down the stretch. Balanced scoring was key, as seven 56ers got into the scoring column, led by Roth’s 13 points, Mitchell’s 12 points and Finn’s 11 points. Lent chipped in with six points, Byrnes added a 3-pointer, and Wiest tossed in three points. Wall, Tsai, Declan Brokaw and Wyatt Jones were once again relentless on defense, while Kyle Roesser gave additional support.
Liston, who also scored five points and has been solid at point guard all season, went down with an injury early in the game. The injury would not keep him from helping his teammates though, as Liston did his best Willis Reed impression and re-entered the game late in the fourth quarter to add a key basket and helped the 56ers preserve the win with a final score of 53-42.
This victory earned the team a spot in Saturday’s FCBL championship game at St Mary’s in Ridgefield.
Wilton 65, Bridgeport 57
Trumbull Select 57, Wilton 54 (OT)
The Wilton eighth grade boys travel team, sponsored by Tavern on 7, defeated Bridgeport-Orcutt in the quarterfinals of the FCBL ‘AA’ tournament, 65-57, last Saturday. Orcutt’s high-powered offense kicked into gear in the third quarter as it took a 12-point lead with hot outside shooting. Wilton then took control of the game with a combination of offensive and defensive pressure. The boys were relentless in attacking the rim. Trevor Martines’ drives to the basket resulted in 25 points (7-for-12 from field, 10-for-14 from line). Martines also had five assists. Josh White also got to the rim for 13 points (6-for-7 in the paint). Michael Coffey’s 13 points were fueled by eight offensive rebounds. Martines (4 steals), White (3 steals), and Mack Kepner (2 steals, 1 deflection, 3 points) jumped-started Wilton’s fourth-quarter rally with intense defensive pressure. Matt Murphy (3 points) had two blocked shots to thwart the Orcutt shooter’s confidence. Matt Gulbin (6 points) and Chase Autore rounded out the scoring.
In last Sunday’s semifinals, Wilton lost in overtime to the defending FCBL ‘AA’ champion Trumbull Select, 57-54. The game featured intense defense from both teams and multiple lead changes. Autore (2 points) and Sean Sullivan (1 point and 1 steal) helped Wilton keep the game close. White spurred the offense with 20 points (3 treys, 7-for-10 from line). Alex Cocoros’ 3-point shooting was key as he hit two treys, one from NBA range, for six points. Martines smartly drove to the basket to draw fouls and he went 6-for-8 from the line. Murphy (7 rebounds, 2 points) and Gulbin (4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal) helped Wilton control the paint.
Wilton trailed 46-40 late in the fourth quarter before rallying to tie the game at 48 on a basket by Owen Lillis (2 points). In overtime, Wilton trailed by four with 22 seconds to go and Trumbull on the line for a one-and-one. After the Trumbull player missed the front end, Coffey (11 points, 11 rebounds) hit his first 3-pointer of the season. Wilton now trailed to 55-54 with seconds to go. Wilton immediately fouled Trumbull, and the Trumbull player hit both free throws to make the score 57-54. White’s halfcourt shot just missed as time expired.
Wilton finished the season as the FCBL ‘A’ Division South regular-season champions with an 8-1 league record and 25-6 overall record.