OSSINING, N.Y.— The 2019 calendar year has been fruitful for the Stamford High School girls basketball team.
The Black Knights entered Saturday at 8-1 in the new year including seven straight FCIAC triumphs.
They had propelled themselves to 10-5 overall and right in the middle of the FCIAC eight-team playoff bracket at 8-4.
In what has become an annual tradition with Stamford High’s veteran coach Diane Burns, she schedules one road contest each season against a talented New York state high school team. The game usually involves a Westchester (N.Y.) County squad so the travel is minimized for the Black Knights.
So Stamford High met Ursuline (N.Y.) School Saturday in the second of five games that comprised the Pauline Ricci Memorial Scholarship Classic at Ossining (N.Y.) High School gym.
Ursuline (14-4 overall) confirmed its status as a New York Section 1 power by topping Stamford, 65-44.
“We welcome the opportunity to come to a tournament like this. Ursuline is top-ranked in its league,” Stamford coach Burns said. “This game each season gives me an honest assessment of exactly where my team is. I find out who is ready for battle.”
BASKETBALL WITH A SHOT CLOCK
It was a different experience for Stamford High as a 30-second shot clock is used in New York state.
The shot clock brings a sense of urgency to each offensive possession. But there was nothing lovable about the way the Ursuline Koalas treated Stamford, especially in the second half.
Ursuline had size and physicality at nearly every position along with superior depth.
The Koalas had four players score in double figures, were efficient passers as they create a number of open looks around the 3-point arc and were great at finding people for fast breaks who leaked out on Stamford missed shots.
Ursuline had a 9-4 closing run for a 32-26 halftime edge. The Koalas used surges of 10-2 early in the third period and 11-2 early in the fourth quarter to settle the issue.
“You have to play all 32 minutes against teams of this caliber,” Stamford’s Burns said. “In the second half, we didn’t continue.”
MERONE IMPRESSES FOR STAMFORD
Stamford’s leading scorer Megan Landsiedel was limited to three points. Guard Jessica Nelson had 10 points despite sitting with foul trouble throughout.
Black Knights’ junior center Dina Merone thrived in the physical battle, scoring a season-high 20 points.
“Dina was amazing, unbelievable,” SHS’ Burns said. “We got to see how tough she really is. She was a fighter in the paint. A real leader today.”
GO TIME FOR BLACK KNIGHTS
Saturday’s loss was preparation for what lies ahead for Stamford. SHS is No. 17 in the Class LL rankings as this out-of-state defeat has no effect.
The Black Knights close the FCIAC regular season by hosting the state’s No. 1 ranked team Norwalk High and travel to battle probable league playoff teams in Danbury and Warde. SHS ends with winless Central before the FCIAC playoff quarterfinals on Feb. 16.
URSULINE (N.Y.) 65, STAMFORD 44
STAMFORD (10-6 overall)
Megan Landsiedel 1 0-0 3 Jessica Nelson 4 1-1 10 Dina Merone 9 2-2 20 Claudia Moses 1 0-0 2 Emily Graham 3 1-2 7 Charlie Karukas 0 0-0 0 Leonora Lipson 0 0-0 0 Breanna Jacobs 0 0-0 0 Widline Thomas 1 0-0 2 Bryanna Montalvo 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 4-5 44.
URSULINE (N.Y.) (14-4 overall)
Sonia Citron 4 2-3 11 Alexa Mustafaj 6 3-3 15 Jane McCauley 4 0-0 10 Meghan Casey 2 0-0 5 Caroline Brennan 2 0-0 4 Alexa Quirolo 3 3-6 10 Ciara Croker 3 0-0 6 Maria Silvestri 0 0-0 0 Riley DelPriore 1 0-0 2 Fiona Mills 1 0-0 2 Nadia Pacheco 0 0-0 0 Nora Corney 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 8-12 65.
STAMFORD 11 15 6 12—44
URSULINE (N.Y.) 14 18 16 17—65
3-Pointers: S—Landsiedel, Nelson. U—Citron, McCauley 2, Casey, Quirolo.