Girls basketball: Trumbull upended by Ridgefield in FCIAC playoffs

Cali Stietzel’s 3-pointer with 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter was the game-winner when seventh-seed Ridgefield upset second-seed Trumbull, 41-40, in the FCIAC quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Fairfield Ludlowe.

Stietzel’s trey came just eight seconds after Allie Palmieri hit a 3-pointer to put Trumbull ahead, 40-38. Following Stietzel’s go-ahead basket, Palmieri misfired on another 3-point attempt and committed a foul on the rebound.

Ridgefield’s Megan Klosowski missed the front end of the resulting one-and-one with 8.8 seconds left and Trumbull snared the rebound and called timeout. But Klosowski then stole the inbound pass and dribbled out the clock, sending the Tigers (12-9) into the semifinals against third-seed Trinity Catholic on Tuesday night at Trumbull High.

Palmieri, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, had 19 of Trumbull’s points. “She’s probably the best player in the league,” Ridgefield coach Anthony Hill said about Palmieri. “We did a good job on her in the second half. We knew we had to find her and try to keep her from scoring.”

Ridgefield’s 3-2 zone and the absence of sophomore guard Cassi Barbato (illness) were factors in Trumbull’s stagnant offense. But head coach Steve Tobitsch specified another reason for his team’s loss.

“We threw the ball away a little against the zone, but the real thing that hurt us was they hurt us on the boards,” Tobitsch said. “They got a lot of second-chance opportunities and points, and we also didn’t get enough scoring opportunities ourselves.”

Even so, Trumbull still led most of the game.

The Eagles went ahead, 8-6, on Emi Roberto’s 3-pointer with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. They  remained in front until Wagner scored on a drive to give Ridgefield a 36-35 lead with 3:32 left in the game.

Krystina Schueler made two free throws to put Trumbull back ahead, 37-36, and the score stayed there until Katie Flynn’s put-back gave the Tigers a 38-37 lead.

Palmieri’s 3-pointer was then answered by Stietzel’s trey, which ended the scoring, and Klosowski’s steal, which ended the game.

Notes: Trumbull led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter, 20-18 at halftime, and 33-25 through three quarters. Kate Wagner led Ridgefield with 10 points. Trumbull got 11 points from Emi Roberto, six points from Meghan Lesko, and four points from Schueler. Palmieri and Roberto each hit three 3-pointers.