Trumbull girls basketball falls to NFA in class LL second round

The Trumbull High School girls basketball team had the start that head coach Steve Tobitsch was hoping for.

The Eagles built an early 13-3 lead, but were unable to hold on against a physical Norwich Free Academy team and fell 45-31 in the CIAC class LL second round.

Trumbull was led by the duo of senior Amanda Pfohl and sophomore Claudia Tucci, as they each finished with a team-high nine points. Not to be outdone was senior Kalisse Eldridge, who finished with seven points. Both Kate O'Leary, a senior, and freshman Julie Keckler rounded out the scoring with three points each.

"I thought our defense was great tonight and the girls were moving their feet," Tobitsch said. "I thought we were quick, our hands were up, we were very active and I was really proud of the way we played. I don't think we did anything wrong. NFA did a great job defensively taking us out of some of the things we wanted to do offensively. We really thought we were going to come out of this on top, but I am still very proud of this team. I am really going to miss this group."

For the Wildcats, no one had a better night than Hailey Connley, as she finished with four three-pointers and a game-high 18 points. The trio of Maya Bell, Cebria Outlow and Olivia Lane each finished with seven points. Mackenzie Burke pitched in with six points.

For Trumbull, the game couldn't have started any better, as its stifling defense held the Wildacts to three points in the opening quarter. Meanwhile the offense was clicking on all cylinders. Pfohl started the game with a three-pointer from the top of the key.

After Bell scored NFA's first points on a floater midway through the quarter, THS exploded with a 10-1 run to end the first. In that stretch, Pfohl connected on another three, while Tucci drained a layup off a steal and fast break. After Eldridge hit the layup in the paint, O'Leary calmly sank a three-pointer from the top of the key with time expiring in the first.

However the Eagles weren't able to get in a groove the rest of the contest, as the Wildcats were more physical than the Eagles have seen all season.

"I thought the game got very physical," Tobitsch said. "It was a little different game than we played all season long. I thought in the beginning of the game we were executing the way we wanted to and we were able to set screens. I thought we weren't as aggressive ourselves, but I also thought the game got a lot more physical. That bumped us around a little bit, but we were able to come back and persevered through a some tough moments. But in the end we started to chase points and making it up was too difficult at the end."

The Eagles were under much more pressure in the second quarter, but thanks to a key three-pointer by Pfohl and a foul shot by Tucci, Trumbull still held the 17-12 halftime lead.

It was a hard-fought third for the Wildcats that helped propel them to the class LL quarterfinal round. Norwich Free Academy started the third on an 8-1 run, as Conley started things off with a three-pointer and Outlow hit both her foul shots with 7:06 left in the quarter. With 5:29 on the clock, Lane connected on the layup underneath to give NFAL it's first lead of the game, 19-18.

It was a lead that the Wildcats never let get away. With 3:09 left in the quarter, Eldridge drove the lane for a layup to make the score 21-20, but Conley hit a three-pointer to stretch the lead back to four. Again, Tucci hit the layup in the paint to cut the deficit to 24-22, but a layup on a fast break by Burke made the score 26-22.

With less than a second to play, Outlow was on the baseline under a bunch of pressure and heaved the ball toward the net. Somehow it found the back of the net, much to the shock of Outlow, and NFA held the 29-22 lead heading into the fourth.

To read more on the game and hear Tobitsch talk about his highly-successful season, check out next week's Trumbull Times.