TRUMBULL — The girls basketball season is less than a week old but the talk in the Trumbull gymnasium Thursday night was all about preparing for the state tournament in March.
With two teams ranked in the GametimeCT Top 10 in No. 8 Wilbur Cross and No. 9 Hamden and another, Trumbull, just outside the Top 10, along with an up-and-coming Simsbury team, the Trumbull Tip-Off Tournament features teams all with postseason dreams.
They all realize being tested early in the season can only help come March.
Thursday, Wilbur Cross (1-0) beat Simsbury (0-1) 33-19 in the opener and Trumbull (2-0) jumped all over Hamden (0-1) 57-34 in the second game.
Saturday, Hamden will face Simsbury at 3:30 p.m. and Wilbur Cross will take on Trumbull at 5:45 p.m.
“I like it. It challenges us early and lets us see what we got,” Wilbur Cross coach Tyrees Thomas said. “Especially stepping out of conference and playing good, quality teams like Simsbury and Trumbull. It is good for competition and gets our girls ready for tournament time.”
April Artis scored 11 points and Rayne Durant scored 12 for Wilbur Cross.
Simsbury made six 3-pointers and one free throw, not hitting any 2-point field goals in the game.
Simsbury, out of the CCC, is ready for the challenge of facing three perennial state title contenders and physical basketball teams.
“This is my seventh year and we have played pretty easy games to start the season, almost every year I have been here,” Simsbury coach Sam Zullo said. “We have won a good amount of games, up there, and we want to see if we can take our game to the next level. We wanted to come down here and challenge ourselves. We didn’t come down here just to show up, we felt like we could compete.”
“We have done OK in the state tournament but we haven’t found out who we are until February the last six years. This year, we want to figure out who we are in December,” Zullo said. “I think it will pay huge dividends down the road. I think it will pay huge dividends Saturday against Hamden.”
Trumbull only has one senior on the roster in Maeve Hampford, starting three sophomores and two juniors.
Despite the youth on the roster, Trumbull has players with varsity experience and it showed Thursday night.
Sophomore Emi Roberto led the way with 13 points while sophomore Sarah Stolze put in 11.
“People may be counting us out a little but we can play with the best teams around,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said. “We want to make sure before we go into our conference play, we want to make sure we play some competitive games. Obviously, the FCIAC is one of the premier leagues in the state. This will only help prepare us. The win is great but it is how we played tonight that I liked. It does not get any easier Saturday. Wilbur Cross is a very good team and I am sure they’ll be ready to go Saturday night.”
Hamden is replacing two all-state players in Taniyah Thompson and Makaela Johnson.
Replacing two of the best players in school history is a huge challenge and the team looked like it was searching for its identity against Trumbull.
The Dragons have a way to go but playing a strong Trumbull side early on can only help the development of the team.
The game between Hamden and Simsbury Saturday will be a strong test for both teams