Tobitsch proud of team's rally in states

Joyce Woolen came to the bench in the final minute of Trumbull High’s Class LL first round state tournament girls basketball game at Fairfield Warde on Monday night, and Eagles’ coach Steve Tobitsch had only one thing to say to his senior.

“I told her she had left everything on the court,” Tobitsch said. “Her energy propelled us back. I’m really proud of our comeback. Everyone pitched in.”

Tobitsch’s 19th-seeded Eagles cut a once 14-point deficit to a single point inside of a minute, but couldn’t get even with the 14th-seeded Mustangs, who advanced with a 41-37 victory.

“They were a step quicker than us for most of the game, but in the fourth quarter we got our legs underneath us,” Tobitsch said.

Trumbull (13-8) took an 8-4 lead after one quarter, with Rachel Carron starting things off with a 3-pointer, but Warde (16-5) used a 10-0 run in the second stanza to take a 24-16 lead into the half.

Woolen, who finished with nine points, kept working hard inside. After Dani McGillicuddy kept a rebound alive, Woolen was fouled going to the basket and made a pair of free throws.

The Eagles limited Warde to 4-of-18 shooting in the third period, but Trumbull was only 2-for-11 from the floor.

Woolen powered in a hoop for the Eagles first basket of the period with 2:34 left in the stanza.

Warde made 3-of-4 free throws to take a 36-21 lead, but Amanda Pfohl curled behind a McGillicuddy screen and took a pass from Kalisse Eldridge. The junior buried the 3-pointer to narrow the deficit to 12.

It was 38-24 with six minutes remaining when the Eagles went on a grueling 13-0 run. Eldridge had all nine of her points during this stretch, starting with a free throw.

She scored three baskets around a brace of Woolen free throws, with an assist going to Katie O’Leary. Two more came on free throws after a pass inside from Kristina Vetter.

Pfohl’s baseline jumper at the 1:41 mark took the score to 38-37.

Warde missed three consecutive free throws, but the Mustangs’ Sarah Cotto came from the weakside to block an Eagle shot  and maintain the one-point edge.

Warde’s Lejla Markovic’s free throw with 15.7 on the clock made it 39-37, and after an Eagle miss, Cotto concluded the scoring with a rebound bucket at the buzzer.

“They have a well-run system and in I regard Steve as the best coach in our league,” Warde coach Dave Danko said. “We got torn apart the first time we played (a 60-47 Trumbull win on Feb. 17). They were physical, they beat us on diagonals (cuts to basket) and from the short corner.

“I kept telling our girls, that they had to respond, that it couldn’t happen in our gym.

“We disrupted their patterns. I told them they had to cover their all-league player (Pfohl) and had to know their personnel (shooters). If they go beyond that its up to me.”

Tobitsch said, “Dave made some great adjustments from the first game, and then we had to adjust. You work hard to get to states and you end up playing another FCIAC team. It’s such a competitive league. I wish them the best of luck.

“Our team showed its character tonight, and all season we were led by our three seniors.

“Maggie Parisi always put the team first, was there for everyone, and that’s what it takes for a program to be successful.

“Joyce Woolen was a three-year starter and each season she brought something to the court to make us better.

“Rachel Carron got us going tonight with that three and has been a steady player. She allowed us to spread the floor and take advantage of her passing and shooting.”