— Mike C (@mikecfree) March 9, 2020
WESTPORT — For three quarters Glastonbury did about everything it could to frustrate top-seeded Staples in the quarterfinals of the Class LL girls basketball tournament Monday night. The Tomahawks cut down passing lanes and kept the Wreckers from getting to the basket for easy points.
In particular, the Glastonbury defensive effort frustrated Staples’ standout senior Arianna Gerig, who picked up three offensive fouls on drives during the third quarter.
Undaunted, Gerig changed her approach and drained a key 3-pointer during Staples 11-0 run to start the fourth. The surge propelled Staples to a 49-42 victory over No. 8 Glastonbury and into the school’s first semifinal since 1995 when the Wreckers won their lone state title.
“If something isn’t working, it’s figuring out something else that will help me score,” said Gerig, who led all scorers with 16 points. “Sometimes we get a little frustrated with some of the offensive calls, it’s just getting my head back into the game and changing up things that may not be working. I had that three at the end and that’s an outside shot I don’t normally take. It got me so fired up to become more of a versatile player.”
There was little to separate the two teams for the first 24 minutes and the score was even at 28-28.
That changed quickly with Staples (23-3) using its defense to force Glastonbury into turnovers and missed 3-pointers. Gerig led the charge with seven straight Staples points, including her 3-pointer to go along with a traditional 3-point play.
“We have a lot of great spurts and they all come from our defensive energy and our hustle,” Gerig said.
The 11-0 run gave the Wreckers breathing room to withstand one final push from the Tomahawks when Charlotte Bassett and Jillian Margaglione connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give Glastonbury a chance.
However Staples senior Kathleen Cozzi didn’t give Glastonbury that oppurtunity, making a jumper and then five straight free throws. Cozzi scored 14 points and finished 10-for-11 from the foul line.
“They’re a senior-laden group and a little bit of pressure, they seem to brush it off and keep going and play with good energy,” Glastonbury coach Chris Vozzolo said. “They’re battle-tested.”
Bassett led Glastonbury with 13 points. Margaglione added 11. Staples also held Glastonbury (17-6) to 7-for-30 shooting from 3-point range.
“Our defense in the second half really stepped up,” Staples coach Paco Fabian said. “Arianna’s three was the turning point in the whole game.”
Staples advances to face No. 13 Greenwich in an all-FCIAC semifinal Friday night.
“We have to protect the ball better. We were a little sloppy tonight,” Fabian said. “We have to cut the turnovers down whoever we play next.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Arianna Gerig, Staples. The senior six-footer scored a game-high 16 points for the top-seeded Wreckers.
“The home-court advantage was great. As seniors we wanted to go out with a bang and we didn’t want to lose on our home court.” — Gerig