Trumbull defeats Stamford, to play Ridgefield in FCIAC semis
WESTPORT — If there is one place the Trumbull girls’ basketball team thrives, it is in the FCIAC tournament.
The Eagles have won two titles in the last three season and have appeared in the conference finals 5 of the last 10 seasons.
No. 3 Trumbull looked comfortable from the opening tip in Saturday’s quarterfinal, jumping on No. 6 Stamford early en route to a 50-38 victory.
Trumbull will play No. 7 Ridgefield in the semifinals Tuesday night at Trumbull High.
The Eagles got out to 24-14 lead at the half, largely due to defensive intensity stymieing the Black Knights.
“We came out and we competed and understood the scouting report,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said. “We have great leadership for a team that is so young. Grace (Lesko) is a terrific jump shooter. Her sister (Megan) played for us. People underestimate those Leskos but they are great athletes. She can knock down shots and she proved it, tonight.”
Lesko and Emi Roberto led Trumbull with 15 points apiece. Lesko got things going early with a 3-pointer and then slowed a Stamford rally in the fourth quarter with two more 3s.
Megan Landsiedel paced Stamford with 14 points.
“The slow starts hurt us again,” Stamford coach Diane Burns said. “We get down then we turn it up a notch trying to catch up. You can’t do that in playoff games and you can’t do that against teams like Trumbull. You can’t play that way all season and expect positive results.”
Trumbull’s defense swarmed all game, fueled by Cassi Barbato’s effort on the defensive end on Landsiedel, who was held to just one field goal in the first half.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Grace Lesko, Trumbull. Lesko set the tone offensively early on and the Eagles fed off her confidence.
“Our defense early was really important because Stamford came out really hard and we knew it would be a tough game and we had to be more aggressive than them,” Lesko said. “We work a lot on passing the ball and making the extra pass. After my layup (in the first quarter) and shot I felt a boost of confidence and I was ready for the game.”
TRUMBULL 50, STAMFORD 38
STAMFORD 4 10 9 17—38
TRUMBULL 9 15 9 17—50
Madison Lockery 2 0-0 5; Charlie Karukas 0 0-0 0; Emily Graham 1 0-0 2; Megan Landsiedel 4 6-10 14; Dina Merrone 1 1-2 3; Breanna Jacobs 4 1-2 10; Samantha Albert 2 0-0 4
Totals: 14 8-14 38
Grace Lesko 6 0-0 15; Sarah Stolze1 1-2 3; Cassi Barbato 3 2-3 9; Emi Roberto 4 6-6 15; Maeve Hampford 1 3-4 5; Amanda Ruchalski 1 0-0 2; Julia Lindwall 0 0-0 0; Brooke Guimont 0 1-2 1
Totals: 16 13-18 50
3-point field goals: S—Lockery, Jacobs; T—Lesko 3, Roberto, Barbato
RIDGEFIELD 41, DANBURY 29
No. 7 Ridgefield and No. 2 Danbury came into their FCIAC quarterfinal matchup with contrasting styles of play. Danbury wants to pound the ball inside to its post players while Ridgefield prefers using speed and outside shooting.
Saturday at Staples, it was Ridgefield’s style of play winning out when the Tigers defeated Danbury 41-29 advancing to the semifinals against No. 3 Trumbull Tuesday at Trumbull.
“I think we are polar-opposites. Part of my plan on offense was to stay away from those bigs, as best we can and we had to hit some shots,” Ridgefield coach Rob Coloney said. “Danbury is a tremendous team and they kept me up the last few nights thinking about them. We went to an offense to try and neutralize how well they play defense in the middle and we executed the game plan to a T.”
Once Ridgefield took a 4-2 lead early in the first quarter, it never trailed again, leading 25-15 at halftime.
The Hatters were able to establish their post players on offense in the second half but never got closer than six points.
“I think we forced too many shots. We were always trying to catch up and when you are doing that, you are never going to catch up,” Danbury coach Jackie DiNardo said. “I thought (Ridgefield) came out with the hot hand from the outside and we didn’t. We are usually better with our zone but (Ridgefield) was able to connect with outside shots.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Cali Stietzel, Ridgefield. Stietzel scored a game-high 15 points, connecting on three 3-pointers.
“We are so excited (to be going to the semifinals). All of our hard work paid off,” Stietzel said. “We were able to work around the ball and get open shots. I think we are unstoppable. We can be champions if we play that way.”