Ashley Wilson is not going to be intimidated on the basketball court.
Wilson will drive the lane with determination no matter how who is waiting in the key, pop a jump shot in a defender’s face with just an inch between them and get inside anybody’s kitchen defensively.
Wilson imported what she calls her “street edge” from summer ball in New York City and has seen her game rise to new heights as a result.
“Playing AAU in New York made my game a lot better because of the different style of play,” Wilson said. “Connecticut is more formal but New York kind of has a street edge to it. I used that street edge to improve my game. My drives have picked up this year and I learned how to shoot in people’s faces which is great because I’m a shooter. I developed that confidence to shoot even when someone is right on me.”
That confidence led to her being named to the first team of both the CHSCA Class LL All-State and All-FCIAC teams as a junior.
This year, Wilson is back for her senior season, leading the Bears to a 10-0 start and the No. 3 spot in the GameTimeCT girls basketball poll while averaging 13.6 points per game.
“Her love and passion for the game set her apart,” Norwalk coach Rick Fuller said. “She has been playing the game a long time and she has great intuition on the court. Some of the things she does on the court are all natural. Other parts of her game she’s worked hard to improve. She’s really stepped it up defensively and added that part of the game to her arsenal.”
The increase in defensive acumen is directly related to her “street edge.”
“Everyone in the FCIAC knows I can shoot or put it on the floor and drive to the basket. I want to make sure that I can play defense, too, and nobody can drive by me or shoot in my face,” Wilson said. “If they’re only focused on me, that means all my teammates get looks, and this is a team game; if we win and I don’t score, that’s fine with me.”
She is content being the focus of opposing defenses because of the talented group of players around her. She is one of only three seniors playing with a strong class of juniors.
Together, the unit is one of Norwalk’s best teams in the past 15 years, and they are determined to return the program to the glory years of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the team won three straight FCIAC crowns and the Class LL title in 2000.
Wilson is not being called upon to dominate games, with multiple scoring threats on the floor at any time, though she has the ability to take over a game when needed.
“The more people who can score, the harder we’re going to be to defend,” Fuller said. “Her time will come and her shots will come. She’s too good a shooter and a scorer not to. Some nights she can take a backseat to other players. That’s what being on a team is all about.”
Wilson plays with a steady calm no matter the game situation, going about her business on the court the same way whether the team is winning or losing.
“She’s a quiet assassin. You look up at the end of a game and she has 20 points,” Fairfield Warde coach Dave Danko said. “Her demeanor on the court is incredible. She’s never too high or never too low. She’s a heady player and always puts her teammates first and is always trying to get everyone involved. She can score a lot when she wants to. She’s an excellent 3-point shooter and has a very quick release.”
Wilson prefers to talk about the team rather than herself, saying the team is growing stronger and closer as the season progresses, all with the same goals in mind.
“Especially with our record this year. I knew we were going to be a good team but now that we’re 10-0 I realize that we’re a lot better than we thought,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we can make a run in states too, because last year we almost made it to the championship.”
Norwalk lost in the Class LL quarterfinals last season to eventual champion Mercy.
First up, Wilson would love to put a 2019 patch on the FCIAC championship banner in the Norwalk gymnasium, which has not been updated since Norwalk last won a FCIAC title in 2001.
“It would be amazing,” Wilson said. “That’s my team goal because the school hasn’t done it in a long time. As a senior I want that very badly. I’d like to come back in this gym and see that up there forever.”
With Wilson’s “street edge” in full swing this season and a seemingly perfect mix of players around her, one of the best players in the FCIAC just might get to showcase her skills at Mohegan Sun in the Class LL championship come March.