NEW HAVEN — If you did not know the date on the calendar, you may have thought you walked into a Class LL girls state playoff game Saturday afternoon at Saulsbury Gym in New Haven.
Both No. 2 Trumbull and Wilbur Cross played as if it was the postseason in a back-and-forth contest eventually pulled out by Trumbull 65-60.
The mood was set right away with Trumbull opening up on a 7-0 run only to have Wilbur Cross race right back for a 7-0 run of its own.
Both teams used big runs at different points in the game with Trumbull going up by eight points after a quarter and 32-27 at the half only to have Cross roar back using a 10-0 run in the third to go up by three after three.
Then, on a team paced by two sophomores, Trumbull senior Krystina Schueler hit a 3-pointer from the wing, putting Trumbull back on top 50-48 with just over four minutes to play.
The Eagles would knock down 11 of 14 free throws in the final quarter, salting away the win and remaining unbeaten at 8-0.
“We just needed to slow down and run our plays and realize we are as tough as they are,” Schueler said. “This was a very hard task because we have never played them before and they are not in our conference. It was a big deal and a really good win. We know we will be playing teams like this in the state tournament.”
Trumbull was led by 21 points from both sophomore starters Allison Palmieri and Cassi Barbato with Schueler adding 16.
Wilbur Cross fell to 5-2 on the season but coach Tyrees Thomas was pleased with the fight his team showed taking the No. 2 team in the state’s best punches and fighting back.
“Basketball is a game of runs. They are going to make a run, we are going to make a run. It’s all about how you respond to those runs,” Thomas said. “They came out on fire and I thought it might be long game but the girls stayed the course and kept playing hard. We know now, we can compete. That’s why I scheduled them. So, we could see where we are at.”
Cross was paced by 21 points from reserve guard April Artis and 11 from Anaija Ricks.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Krystina Schueler, Trumbull. Schueler put Trumbull ahead with her 3-pointer but also battled on the boards all night, securing critical rebounds for the Eagles.
“I am really proud of how our team responded. Good games involve good runs. We got off to an early run but we knew this team was going to come back on us,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said. “Schueler is a heck of a volleyball player and she’s a good basketball player, too. She is all-state in volleyball and it has taken a little bit for her to get her feet wet this season but you saw tonight, she wasn’t afraid to take the big shot. She’s very talented and she’s not just a post player, she can step out and shoot the ball, too.”
TRUMBULL 65 WILBUR CROSS 60
TRUMBULL 19 13 8 25 – 65
CROSS 11 16 16 17—60
TRUMBULL (8-0) Kelly O’Leary 1 2-4 5; Meghan Lesko 0 0-0 0; Cassi Barbato 7 2-2 21; Allison Palmieri 8 5-6 21; Krystine Schueler 5 4-4 16; Emi Roberto 1 0-0 2; Sarah Stolze 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 13-16 65
WILBUR CROSS (5-2) Anaija Ricks 4 3-7 11; Kayla Jefferson 3 1-1 8; Tyannah Tucker 2 0-0 4; Tashea Nelson 0 2-2 2; Jade Hill 1 0-0 2; Kandie Everette 2 1-2 5; April Artis 8 3-5 21; Dejah Middleton 2 0-0 4; Rayne Durant 1 0-0 2. Totals: 23 10-17 60
3-point field goals: T—O’Leary, Barbato 5, Schueler 2; WC—Artis 2