Girls basketball: Trumbull Eagles lose to Mercy in semis

Mercy High of Middletown used an outstanding job shooting the basketball to defeat Trumbull High, 62-46, in the CIAC Class LL girls basketball semifinals in Branford on Friday night.

Coach Tim Koh’s second-seeded Tigers (26-1) will play No. 5 Hall High (21-3) from West Hartford for the title next weekend at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Hall topped eighth-seeded Enfield High, 56-54 in overtime in its semifinal.

“First thing, I’m proud of our group and how they all played to the final whistle,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said of his Eagles, who finished 25-2. “Mercy played very well, they shot the ball well tonight and brought their A game.”

Senior Isabella Santora led the Tigers with a 25-point performance.

Her 6-foot sidekick and classmate Meghan DeVille scored 17 points.

Aisling Maguire led Trumbull with 12 points. Julie Keckler scored eight.

“Mercy has such a presence in the middle with Meghan,” Tobitsch said. “We had to kick the ball out and I thought we had some good looks, but the shots weren’t falling at the same frequency (as Mercy’s).”

The Tigers were efficient.

“We played well on offense,” Kohs said. “The key is that we played great on defense. We have multiple kids that can score. We executed our plays. If we score great, but we got the looks we wanted and tonight the girls shot the ball very well.”

Mercy scored on 7-of-11 possessions to take a 15-6 lead after one period.

Trumbull was 2-for-10.

Allie Palmieri canned a 3-pointer for Trumbull’s first points at the 3:55 mark to make it 4-3.

Meghan Lesko hit a triple with 51 seconds remaining to take the score to 13-6.

Keckler and Cassi Barbato had the assists.

The Eagles were more effective in the second quarter, when they made good on 6-of-11 possessions.

Brady Lynch and Keckler each had five points in the frame that saw Mercy take a 29-18 lead into the half.

Trumbull was 2-for-7 from long range, while Mercy was 2-for-3 and scored points on 7-of-12 trips.

“We told the girls at halftime we were proud with how they responded,” Tobitsch said. “It was what, 29-18? We thought we were right there, but they kind of dictated the tempo right out of halftime.”

The Tigers won the third period, 18-5, with three players knocking down 3-pointers.

Santoro buried a pair and DeVille went inside for a three-point play.

Trumbull shot 2-for-9 from the field, 1-for-5 from behind the arc.

The Eagles made a mini-run in the fourth quarter.

“They have a heckuva team,” Kohs said. “They are well coached and very talented. They kept coming. The shots started to fall, and I told the girls you can’t give this team a chance (to get back in it).”

Barbato hit a three off a Keckler assist.

Palmieri rebounded a miss and went end-to-end, where she was fouled and hit the first free throw.

Barbato collared the missed second shot and Kelly O’Leary connected on a 3-pointer.

Maguire made a trey, added a free throw, and then went inside for another bucket.

Palmieri had two assists and Lesko one during this stretch.

The problem for Trumbull was that Mercy scored on 6-of-7 possessions to maintain its 18-point advantage.

The Eagles kept battling.

Maguire and Keckler knocked down 3-pointers.

Jess Lipinski and Bella McCain added buckets, but nothing could stop Mercy from advancing to the final.

“I think it’s a tremendous success, and the credit goes to (the leadership) of our four seniors (Brady Lynch, Julie Keckler, Aisling Maguire and Jess Lipinski),” Tobitsch said when asked to assess the season.

“To lose all we lost last year (three seniors) and to come in this year with a lot of unknown factors and to be in the state semifinals and win back-to-back FCIAC titles is a tremendous success.”