STAMFORD — The postseason is when you want your stars to shine the brightest.
Especially your senior standouts taking their final shot at leaving a legacy.
Well, Iyanna Lops, the latest member of Trinity Catholic High School’s 1,000 career point club, put together a dazzling performance Thursday night at Walsh Court.
The 6-foot-1 center poured in a game-high 33 points, corralled 16 rebounds along with five blocks and four assists to lead the Crusaders to a 56-33 Class S Tournament second-round triumph over No. 10 seed Gilbert School.
It was the second straight year that Gilbert coach Gerry Hicks watched Lops drive his YellowJackets out of the state tournament.
“After last year, we knew what we were getting into with Lops,” Hicks said. “We tried changing defenses. We tried to contain Trinity’s scorers. But Lops can score outside. She’s so strong inside. What are you going to do? When she gets the ball, it’s tough. She’s the most talented tall girl we see all season.”
Having earned their second straight home victory, No. 7 seed Trinity Catholic (19-5 overall) will take part in the Class S ‘See Connecticut Tour.’ The Crusaders will now travel to No. 2 seed Housatonic Regional for the Class S quarterfinals. Housatonic Regional ousted No. 15 seed Aerospace, 56-17 Thursday night.
The most impressive part of Thursday’s win for Trinity Catholic is the fact junior point guard Caitlyn Scott sat out nearly the entire second and third quarters due to foul trouble.
Trinity Catholic led 25-21 at halftime.
The third period was the Lops’ Show. She scored 16 of Trinity’s 18 points in the quarter. The Crusaders closed with a 12-0 surge for a 43-27 edge after three periods.
“When I walked on the court before the game and saw the small height of the Gilbert team, I thought two things. I will demand the ball in the low post. And I will eat (score) in the low post,” Lops said. “After we lost the FCIAC Championship final (32-29) to Norwalk, I wanted to show the inside game that was missing that evening.”
It was a night where Trinity Catholic’s defense was critical as well. Gilbert tried running clock on offensive possessions to shorten the game. But between foul trouble and Trinity getting ahead by six to eight points, the Yellowjackets had to find points quicker.
Trinity Catholic, especially Sarah Jablonsky, Emma Garner and Kyah Nowlin, shackled Gilbert’s top scorer Jillian Wexler. The point guard had 10 of her team-high 13 points in the first half.
Nowlin was the importsant second scoring option for Trinity Catholic. The senior had 13 of her 15 points in the first half.
“Tonight was a good experience for us to play for an extended stretch (17 minutes) without (point guard) Caitlyn (Scott). Emma Garner handled the ball well. And the girls all responded on defense,” Trinity Catholic coach Mike Walsh said. “Our defense tired Gilbert out.”
And now, Trinity Catholic will take the show on the road against Housatonic Regional (21-1).
“It should a dynamite game,” said Hicks, whose squad lost twice this season to Housatonic.