Trumbull meets Warde in FCIAC showcase

After trailing 31-16 at the half of the season opener, the Trumbull High girls basketball team rallied back with a 12-4 run in the third quarter to make it a contest before the Eagles ultimately fell to the Fairfield Warde Mustangs in the final moments, 44-40, in the season opener for both teams on Dec. 10.

“We couldn’t be prouder of them,” said Trumbull head coach Steve Tobitsch. “It was 13 points in the second half to a team that you give up 31 to in the first half. Warde is an outstanding team, their bigs are really tough inside.”

Trumbull’s Amanda Pfohl led all scorers with 17 points while fellow senior Kate O’Leary added eight. Lejla Markovic led the Mustangs with 14 points while Sarah Cotto added 13 points off the bench and Shania Osborne had nine points in the paint.

The game was even in the first quarter, as Osborne got the first points on a lay-in off the glass and Alyssa Breunig responded with a jump shot for Trumbull.

The Mustangs then scored three straight baskets on layups from Markovic and Daja Polk and a corner jumper from Illiana Krasniqi.

Trumbull answered with a Kristina Vetter layup, to which Markovic countered with a 3-pointer. O’Leary responded with a layup and Maria Miller then got the Warde layup to make it 11-8 Warde after one.

In the second quarter, Warde outscored Trumbull 20-8 on seven Markovic points and four from Cotto and Osborne.

The Eagles made it 15-14 after a Danielle McGillicuddy 3-pointer and long two from O’Leary.

The Mustangs broke away and a Cotto steal and layup to made it 24-14. The Eagles stopped, the rally with a Pfohl layup but Warde scored six more to lead 31-16 at the half.

“We had some great looks (in the first half),” Tobitsch said. “We just needed to slow ourselves down. When we slowed down we started executing and we got the same good looks. We want to encourage our kids to shoot the basketball when they’re open.”

The Eagles stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring the Mustangs 12-4.

“This was two good teams,” said Warde coach Dave Danko. “Two playoff teams start the year, going at each other. We told them that they were going to come out. They’re not going to roll over. They have too much pride.

“That coach works them too hard. They’re basketball players. They represent their uniform, Trumbull, well. It was a good opening game.”

Kalisse Eldridge started things in the second half with a layup and O’Leary followed with a rebound and put back. After a Markovic layup, Pfohl started to heat up, nailing a pair of three’s before Breuning made a corner two to make it 35-28 heading into the fourth.

“The girls made the adjustments at halftime,” Tobitsch said. “To make up the point differential in the first half was a lot. To make it a competitive game like we did speaks volumes to the team we have.”

Pfohl kept it going in the fourth, starting it off with a three. Warde answered with layups from Cotto and Osborne before Pfohl hit her fourth three to make it 39-34.

Vetter followed with a layup, as did Taylor Brown, to make it 39-38.

Cotto responded for the Mustangs with a three, and a steal which led to two foul shots. Pfohl answered with a layup with 45 seconds left to make it 44-40. After a stop, the Eagles could not score on their final possession, falling to Warde 44-40.

“We had a little first game jitters but there are 19 more after this and there is a lot we can learn from,” Tobitsch said. “There was a lot of positives. We played unbelievable in the second half. To stay in there and hang in there and give up only 13 points, they did a great job.

After playing at New Canaan on Dec. 17, the Eagles will host Westhill High from Stamford on Monday at 5:30 p.m.