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Stamford girls execute down the stretch to beat Greenwich

Published 11:34 pm, Tuesday, December 18, 2012
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On an evening when everyone else on the court struggled to knock down foul shots, Stamford freshman Tiana England showed exactly how it's done at the most crucial of times.

England scored 16 points, including a perfect 4-4 from the foul line in the final quarter, as Stamford held off Greenwich 50-48 in girls basketball on Tuesday, improving to 5-0 on the season.

"I think our girls stuck with it," Black Knights coach Todd Parness said. "In the fourth quarter when the game was on the line we did a little better job of controlling the basketball and it came down to the free throws at the end. Tiana going 4-4 in the fourth quarter really sealed it for us."

Caroline Barrett had a 3-pointer fall short from midcourt as time expired for the Cardinals (1-4), who nearly rallied from a 49-45 deficit with less than 20 seconds left. Jenny Cespedes and Abbie Wolf each hit 3-pointers late to give Greenwich hope, but Stamford went 3-4 from the foul line in the final minute to come away with the victory.

"I think our girls knew we were a better team, we just started to execute better," Stamford captain Kelsey Santagata said. "We worked hard in practice and we deserved to win tonight, and the girls realized that."

In a nip-and-tuck affair that saw neither team hold a lead greater than seven points, England took over in the fourth quarter, nailing a pull-up 3 to extend Stamford's lead to 41-36 and coming up with a pair of vital steals down the stretch.

"We want her to step up, she has the ability to step up in games like that," Parness said. "I think it took her until the fourth quarter to do that and she definitely did that for us. She handled the ball under the pressure, she was strong when she fouled and she knocked down her foul shots; that is what you want from a point guard."

The Black Knights got 12 points and 12 rebounds from Brianna Gordon, while Anisa Fortt had 10 points and nine boards. The balanced attack came at the perfect time, as Santagata was held to four points.

"We are a very balanced team this year and I think that's great," Santagata said. "I didn't have a great game but everyone else was there to pull it out."

Cespedes led Greenwich with 16, while Jamie Kockenmeister added 12. The Cardinals were done in by a poor shooting performance from the line, going 4-for-12 for the game and 0-2 in the fourth quarter.

"We've been getting to the line a lot more than that all season," Greenwich coach Chrys Hernandez said. "I don't necessarily know if we were as aggressive attacking the basket as we have in the past. Even with that said we didn't finish when we were given our opportunities."

The Cardinals have dropped four straight since winning their season opener, including a pair of narrow defeats, and Hernandez believes the difference between victory and defeat is in the heads of her squad.

"I think our girls gave a great effort; they were exciting to watch," Hernandez said. "I think we are learning to switch our mental switch and change our mentality from we don't want to lose to we are going to win."

Stamford 50, GHS 48

STAMFORD (5-0)

Ashyla Cody 1 1-2 3 Tiana England 5 4-4 16 Maxine Fodiman 2 1-2 5 Anisa Fortt 5 0-2 10 Brianna Gordon 4 4-9 12 Kelsey Santagata 2 0-4 4 Totals: 24 10-21 50

GREENWICH (1-4)

Jenny Cespedes 5 3-6 16; Caroline Barrett 3 0-2 6; Rebecca DeCarlo 1 0-2 2; Alexa Moses 0 1-2 1; Abbie Wolf 4 0-0 9; Jamie Kockenmiester 6 0-0 12; Brittany Rodriguez 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 4-12 48.

STAMFORD 10 11 13 16--50

GREENWICH 13 9 8 18--48

3-pointers: S--England; G--Cespedes 2, Wolf.

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