Girls basketball: Trumbull defeats Stamford to earn title

One by one, Trumbull High’s Claudia Tucci, Taylor Brown and Victoria Ray ran off the court with 4.7 seconds on the clock and Eagles’ coach Steve Tobitsch was there to give each of his seniors a congratulatory hug — top-seeded Trumbull had defeated third-seeded Stamford High 44-35 to earn the FCIAC girls basketball title on Thursday night.

It was Trumbull's first title since 2011.

Stamford had defeated Trumbull in last year's FCIAC semifinals en route to winning the title.

“Claudia plays with a lot of passion, has stepped up tremendously,” Tobitsch said after the win before a bipartisan crown at Fairfield Ludlowe.

“Taylor is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached. Victoria is a terrific leader, does everything you would want from a lead guard on the court.

“These girls on the team all worked very all season and we’re excited to bring this title back to Trumbull.”

Brown, who had seven points, was named tournament MVP.

“In the second half we definitely picked it up,” Brown said. “We picked up our intensity. All the teams in the FCIAC are great and Stamford gave us a great game. I thought everyone on my team did amazing and that this was a great team win.”

Tucci scored 14 points to lead all scorers.

“To achieve this goal our senior year is awesome,” Tucci said. “This team put in a great effort all season. It’s been a great four years, everyone on our team put in a lot of work for this.”

Ray didn’t expect Trumbull to be trailing 22-13 at the half, but remained confident.

“We’ve battled hard as a team all season,” Ray said. “Coach told us to keep our heads up (at halftime). We did a better job helping on defense and getting to loose balls. We’ve played so hard these past four years.”

Aisling Maguire and Julie Keckler each scored 11 points for Trumbull, 22-1 overall.

Brady-Ayn Lynch came on to play the front court, while Kristen Pagliaro and Kelly O'Leary chipped in at guard.

Tobitsch said, “Stamford is a fantastic team. This is a great league we are in. I think they are going to be great in the state tournament.”

The Black Knights, now 18-5, were led in scoring by Camille Martinez (eight points) and Alexa Kellner (eight points).

“There’s nothing for our girls to hang their heads over, they made it to the FCIAC championship game, after winning it last year,” Stamford coach Diane Burns said. “Trumbull out hustled us, out worked us and got to more loose balls. We had great momentum coming in and had great moments tonight.”

Trumbull broke on top 9-2 by making 4 of 8 shots to start the game.

Stamford, after a 2 for 9 start shooting from the field, scored on four straight possessions and ended the first period on an 8-0 run to lead 10-9.

The game was tied for the third time at 12-12.

Stamford made 8-of-9 free throws down the stretch and took a nine-point lead into the half.

Brooke Kelly was 6-for-6 from the stripe in the quarter.

Trumbull had 12 possessions without a point between Keckler’s 3-pointer to open the frame and a free throw by Maguire with 26.8 seconds remaining.

Three minutes into the third quarter, Trumbull regained some swagger on offense.

Down 24-16, the Eagles scored the next 14 points to take a 30-24 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Maguire scored eight points in the run. Brown had five points and Tucci four.

Keckler had a steal and breakaway basket to open the final period.

Kellner scored on a baseline runner to end the skein, but Tucci made 5-of-6 free throws to stretch the margin to 37-29 with 3:22 remaining.

Trumbull made only 3 of its next 14 free throw tries, but Stamford could manage only a 3-pointer by Martinez, a basket by Megan Landsiedel and a free throw by Andrea O’Connor the rest of the way.

Maguire and Keckler each converted a brace of free throws in the final 17.6 seconds.