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Danbury repeats as FCIAC girls basketball champion

Updated 12:35 am, Friday, February 22, 2013

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  • Trumbull high school's Alexa Pfohl tries to stop Danbury high school's Uniqua Tucker from going up for a basket in the 2012-2013 FCIAC girls basketball championship played at Fairfield Ludlowe high school, Fairfield, CT on Thursday February 21st, 2013. Photo: Mark Conrad / Connecticut Post Freelance
    Trumbull high school's Alexa Pfohl tries to stop Danbury high school's Uniqua Tucker from going up for a basket in the 2012-2013 FCIAC girls basketball championship played at Fairfield Ludlowe high school, Fairfield, CT on Thursday February 21st, 2013. Photo: Mark Conrad

 

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FAIRFIELD -- Twice is definitely nice for the Danbury girls basketball team.

And while the Hatters encountered a few more bumps in the road on the way to their second consecutive FCIAC championship, this year's trophy will look awfully nice sitting next to last year's in the trophy case.

The fourth-seeded Hatters defeated second-seeded Trumbull 41-30 in the FCIAC tournament championship game at Fairfield Ludlowe High School. Identical twins Rebecca and Rachel Gartner were named co-MVPs of the tournament. Rachel scored eight points and added two steals Thursday, while Rebecca had seven points, four rebounds and two steals. Uniqua Tucker -- the lone senior in the Hatters' starting lineup ---- scored a game-high 14 points and grabbed four rebounds. Kayla Handberry chipped in with eight points, nine rebounds and a blocked shot.

Unlike Danbury's undefeated run to its first-ever FCIAC title last year, the Hatters lost three of their last four regular-season games this year before regrouping for the FCIAC tournament. Danbury started the season with 16 straight wins, but then saw its regular-season winning streak snapped at 37 games, a streak which dated back to Valentine's Day of 2011. The Hatters rebounded to defeat Darien and Wilton in the first two rounds of the tournament to reach the final.

"We lost three tough games this season," Rebecca Gartner said. "We knew what we had to do differently. So, we just came to practice, worked on the things we messed up on, fixed stuff, got new plays. It was really just a team effort."

"Everybody on our team wanted it," Rachel Gartner added, finishing her sister's train of thought. "We wanted to win for the second year in a row."

The Hatters certainly straightened things out in a hurry. Among those three losses was a 42-36 defeat at the hands of Trumbull.

"I really believe that failure breeds success," Danbury coach Jackie DiNardo said. "Sometimes you have to get your butt kicked to see how hard you have to work if you really want it."

Erin Moore led Trumbull with 10 points and Amanda Pfohl added eight. The Eagles were playing for their second FCIAC title in three years, having lost to Danbury in last year's final.

"It has been a very competitive FCIAC all year long," Trumbull coach Stephen Tobitsch said. "Any team in the top eight I thought could absolutely win the FCIAC tournament. I thought our girls played extremely hard. I told them that they should be proud of what they did."

Tucker was a sparkplug on offense for the Hatters, but she also made one of the biggest defensive plays of the night. Trumbull had opened the fourth quarter with a 7-2 run to narrow Danbury's lead to 35-25 with a little more than three minutes remaining. The Eagles had the ball and the momentum.

But Tucker leaped in front of a Trumbull inbounds pass on Danbury's defensive end, deflected it away, hustled up the sideline after the loose ball and raced the length of the court to sink a layup. That sparked a 6-0 Danbury run that put the Hatters up 39-25 with 1:46 remaining.

Moore scored just two of her 10 points in the second half, while Handberry scored the Hatters' final six points to help keep the Eagles at bay.

NOTES: The All-FCIAC teams were announced at halftime. Danbury's Gartner twins and Trumbull's Alexa Pfohl all received first-team recognition ... Trumbull has won two FCIAC titles (2005 and 2011) as has Danbury (2012 and 2013).

DANBURY (20-3)

Rachel Gartner 4 0-2 8; Allie Smith 2 0-1 4; Uniqua Tucker 5 4-5 14; Rebecca Gartner 2 2-2 7; Kayla Handberry 3 2-2 8; Melissa Peachman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 8-12 41.

TRUMBULL (20-3)

Alexa Pfohl 0 4-4 4; Kate O'Leary 1 0-0 2; Rachel Carron 1 0-0 2; Joyce Woolen 0 0-0 0; Danielle McGillicuddy 1 0-0 3; Lauren Hyde 0 1-2 1; Amanda Pfohl 3 1-1 8; Erin Moore 4 2-2 10. Totals: 10 8-9 30.

DANBURY 4 19 8 10 -- 41

TRUMBULL 8 4 6 12 -- 30

3-pointers: D-Re. Gartner; T-Am. Pfohl, McGillicuddy.