FAIRFIELD — When a one-time 17-point lead evaporated down to just three in the fourth quarter, there was no panic from the Trumbull girls basketball team.
Instead the No. 1 Eagles stayed composed, took care of the ball and knocked down free throws in the final minutes on the way to a 51-44 win over No. 5 Stamford in the FCIAC semifinals at Ludlowe Tuesday night.
Defending champion Trumbull (21-1) will go for the repeat, taking on No. 2 Wilton in the championship game Thursday at 7 p.m. back at Ludlowe.
“It is really exciting going back to the championship,” Trumbull senior center Brady-Ayn Lynch said. “Stamford is great team and we knew they would not stop fighting the whole game despite the score at halftime. Even though we are a young team this year we still have the same expectations and we are really excited to be back.”
Lynch scored a team-high 12 points with Julie Keckler and Cassi Barbato both adding 11.
Stamford’s leading scorer this season, Brooke Kelly, picked up two fouls in the first 1:30 of the game, forcing her to the bench.
Stamford could not get in rhythm with Kelly out, trailing 17-3 after a quarter.
“Trumbull is too good and too calm with the basketball to try and come back from a 14-point deficit like that,” Stamford coach Diane Burns said. “It did not help (having Kelly out). She did a good job of handling it when she came back in not getting herself in deeper foul trouble.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Julie Keckler, Trumbull. When the game got tight late, it was Keckler with the ball in her hands and it was Keckler hitting four big free throws in the fourth, maintaining the lead.
“Stamford has a lot of pride just like we do and we knew they were not going to go away. We got off to a hot start but they grinded all the way to the end,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said. “It isn’t easy. We have a totally different lineup than we had a year ago and I think our captains did a really good job all year. They went through one of the great runs in school history last year and to come back here and be competing for a championship is fantastic.”
Stamford, trailing 36-19, went on a 17-3 run spanning the third and fourth quarters and when Brooke Kelly’s rainbow 3 went in with 4:48 left, the lead was down to just three points. The Black Knights would not get any closer.
TRUMBULL 51 STAMFORD 46
Brooke Kelly 4 4-4 18; Claudia Moses 0 1-4 1; Kelly Jagodzinski 0 0-0 0; Megan Landsiedel 2 0-0 4; Andrea O’Connor 6 1-1 13; Jessica Nelson 3 2-7 8; Dina Marone 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 8-16 46
Meghan Lesko 0 0-0 0; Kelly O’Leary 0 1-2 1; Krystina Schueler 2 3-4 7; Aisling Maguire 1 0-0 2; Julie Keckler 2 6-10 11; Cassi Barbato 3 4-6 11; Brady-Ayn Lynch 6 0-0 12; Allison Palmieri 2 2-2 7; Gianna Ghista 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 16-23 51
STAMFORD 3 9 14 18—46
TRUMBULL 17 6 11 15—51
3-pointers: S—Kelly 4; T—Keckler, Barbato, Palmieri