Updated: Trumbull High returns to state semifinals

Allie Palmieri shoots the ball over a Newtown High defender. — Andy Hutchison photos

Trumbull High’s girls basketball team built a 16-point lead through three quarters of play before holding off visiting Newtown 40-33 in the Class LL state tournament quarterfinals on Monday night.

No. 3 Trumbull (25-1) earns a rematch with No. 2 Mercy of Middletown (22-1) in the state semifinals on Friday; the Eagles defeated Mercy in the semis last year.

“The girls are excited. We’re moving on, but we’re definitely not satisfied. We need to play a better 32 minutes.” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said.

Newtown, the No. 6 seed, saw its season end despite chipping away and getting the lead down to five with 2:34 left.

Both teams had trouble scoring, in part because of solid defensive work by the opposition.

Aisling Maguire and Allie Palmieri led Trumbull, each scoring 11 points. Julie Keckler had seven, Krystina Schueler had five, and Cassi Barbato and Kelly O’Leary each tacked on three.

Cassi Barbato drives the ball to the basket.

Brady Lynch pulled down nine rebounds. Keckler had four rebounds and two assists. Maguire had 11 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

Newtown held a lead late in the opening half.

Palmieri drained a 3-pointer for a 17-14 advantage midway through the second stanza, and the Eagles didn’t relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Schueler hit a 3-pointer late in the opening half, and Trumbull seized a 23-17 edge at the break.

The second half started as a defensive battle with neither team scoring until O’Leary rattled home a shot from downtown nearly three minutes into the third quarter.

Amy Sapenter scored Newtown’s only points of the period on a 3-pointer with 3:38 left, making the score 26-20.

The Eagles finished the period on a 10-0 run sparked by Barbato’s catch and shoot 3-ball off an inbound. Palmieri added a 3-pointer and Maguire finished a pair of fast-break opportunities during the run.

“I think we played really tough in the second and third quarters. We were physical and rebounded the basketball,” Tobitsch said.

Newtown reeled off 11 unanswered points to being the fourth, and held Trumbull without a point, until Palmieri converted off an inbound with just 1:30 left, making the score 38-31.

After Newtown trimmed the deficit back to five, Keckler hit a clutch front end one and one foul shot, as well as her second attempt with 47 seconds left, to cap the scoring.

“We pulled it together and finished the game off,” Tobitsch said.

Trumbull’s coach was pleased with the way his players marked their opponents.

“I think the girls did a good job understanding the matchups,” said Tobitsch, adding that Keckler did a fine job of defending Newtown point guard Rylee Mulligan, limiting her to six points, and that O’Leary and Meghan Lesko also defended well.

Even when Newtown had chipped away at almost all of Trumbull’s lead, the Eagles maintained confidence.

“We still had the lead to hold onto. We had to keep getting stops on defense,” Maguire said.

“We’re really excited. We have a great game coming up on Friday.”

Trumbull

Meghan Lesko 0 0-0 0; Kelly O’Leary 1 0-0 3; Krystina Schueler 2 0-0 5; Aisling Maguire 5 0-1 11; Julie Keckler 1 5-7 7; Cassi Barbato 1 0-1 3; Allie Palmieri 4 1-2 11; Brady Lynch 0 0-2 0

Team Totals: 14 6-13 40

Newtown

Cailin Wilson 0 1-2 1; Rylee Mulligan 3 0-0 6; Ali Kelleher 1 0-0 2; Cyleigh Wilson 1 0-0 2; Carli Smith 1 2-2 5; Jackie Matthews 1 0-0 2; Nicki DaPra 1 0-0 2; Kira Smith 1 0-0 2; Amy Sapenter 4 1-2 11

Team Totals: 13 4-6 33

Scoring by Quarters

Trumbull:   11 12 13 4 – 40

Newtown:  12 5 3  13 – 33

3-Pointers Made: Trumbull:  Kelly O’Leary-1; Krystina Schueler-1; Aisling Maguire-1; Allie Palmieri-2; Newtown: Carli Smith-1; Amy Sapenter-2