Trumbull girls basketball team tops Danbury
Updated 12:32 am, Thursday, February 14, 2013
TRUMBULL -- By now, everybody around the FCIAC knows the book on the Trumbull girls basketball team. The Eagles are well-coached, run a complex assortment of plays on offense and play tough defense.
It's a combination that's helped them win close to 50 league games over the past three seasons.
However, the question lingered: Would Trumbull's formula be effective against the league's best when the FCIAC playoffs begin Saturday? It's an issue since the Eagles' two defeats -- both by double digits -- came to Stamford and Wilton, both playoff teams.
Trumbull served notice it can hang with the league's best by defeating defending league champion Danbury 42-36 Wednesday night.
"It was a huge win," Eagles coach Steve Tobitsch said. "This was a big confidence booster before the playoffs."
Senior center Erin Moore led Trumbull with 14 points, including back-to-back baskets late in the fourth quarter -- each coming when the Hatters had cut the Eagles' lead to a point.
"It feels good, we're definitely improving," Moore said. "We have a game plan to beat them down the road. It's not over yet, so hopefully we can repeat this."
Both teams looked sluggish playing their first games since last Thursday due to the weekend winter storm. Eventually, they settled into a rhythm by the end of the first half, with the Eagles leading 19-15 at the break.
Trumbull extended its lead in the third by turning Danbury over seven times. Amanda Pfohl's 3-pointer late in the third gave the Eagles their biggest lead at 28-19.
Danbury began using its full-court press and closed the third on an 8-0 run -- the first six points coming from Rachel Gartner, who led the Hatters with 14 points.
Kayla Handberry's put-back seconds into the fourth quarter gave Danbury a 29-28 lead, but Alexa Pfohl answered on the other end for Trumbull, putting the Eagles back on top for good.
A 3-pointer by Gartner -- the only one made by the Hatters -- with 1:03 left in the game gave Danbury late life, making it 38-36. Again Trumbull responded, this time on an open layup by Joyce Woolen after the Eagles broke the Hatters' press.
"We've played tons of close games," Tobitsch said. "Our games aren't usually blowouts. Our seniors knew what to do and stayed calm."
Danbury has lost two of its last three after opening the season 16-0 and spending time ranked No. 1 in the state poll,
"The officiating did a great job, so it's not that, but sometimes we let it get into our head and we get frustrated," Danbury coach Jackie DiNardo said. "You can't play this game frustrated and then it's a little bit that we're so afraid to lose, that we're pushing ourselves like we're losing the whole time, which we're not."
DiNardo admitted this season, with every team targeting them, has felt different than a year ago for the Hatters, when they won their first FCIAC title -- defeating Trumbull in the championship game.
"When you're on the top, everyone wants to knock you off," she said. "We're better, I think right now (than last year), but we're not playing like that. We need to get it back."
By virtue of Wednesday's win, the Eagles still have an outside shot at the No. 1 seed in the FCIAC tournament. Trumbull plays at Staples Thursday night. The Wreckers need to win the game to qualify for the state tournament.
DANBURY (17-2, 15-2 FCIAC)
Nanla Ward 1 0-0 2 Rachel Gartner 6 1-2 14 Allie Smith 1 0-0 2 Uniqua Tucker 0 0-0 0 Rebecca Gartner 3 2-2 8 Kayla Handberry 5 0-1 10 Melissa Peachman 0 0-0 0 Totals: 16 3-5 36
TRUMBULL (17-2, 15-2)
DANBURY 8 7 12 9--36
TRUMBULL 7 12 9 14--42
3-pointers: D--Ra. Gartner; T--Carron; Amanda Pfohl 3