STAMFORD—All the ingredients were there for a team ready to make noise in the postseason.
The Trinity Catholic High School girls basketball team displayed enough chemistry, experience, smarts, resilency, persistance and talent Friday night to fashion a 51-43 home triumph over Danbury High before a packed house at Walsh Court.
The Crusaders overcame foul trouble and other obstacles to conquer an equally-stubborn Danbury High squad in a playoff atmosphere.
“This game showed me what we’re capable of doing in the playoffs,” said Trinity Catholic coach Mike Walsh as Danbury’s only lead came at 1-0. “Our bench gave us big minutes. We made free throws when we had to. But what I liked best was how we played defense.”
TC’s LOPS GETS 1,000TH POINT
The contest was not without pomp, circumstance and history.
Trinity Catholic senior center Iyanna Lops hit a short jumper just 20 seconds into the second quarter to reach the 1,000-point milestone for her career.
Despite fighting foul trouble, Lops finished the night with a game-high 17 points along with 13 rebounds and three blocks. She now has 1,009 career points.
“Reaching 1,000 points has been on my mind for a while. Since freshman year, it was a milestone I wanted to reach,” said Lops, who will play women’s college basketball at Cal State University at Bakersfield in the fall. “I know I couldn’t do this without my team.”
Besides the game ball and flowers, Lops received two other wonderful commemorative gifts.
There was an elaborate and large poster in Trinity Catholic’s green and gold colors that declared “Congratulations, Iyanna Lops on joining the 1,000 career point club.”
And there were four gigantic gold balloons that spelled out 1,000.
“The balloons are going in my room at home,” Lops said.
LITTLE THINGS MEAN VICTORY
Lops drew her second foul with 50 seconds left in the first period. She was whistled for her third with 5:13 left before halftime as Trinity led 16-11. She sat the rest of the second quarter.
With Sarah Jablonsky in off the bench, the Crusaders maintained and led 24-17 at halftime.
Lops drew her fourth foul just nine seconds into the fourth quarter. But she played the rest of the way without incident.
“I kept my hands up high. My long arms were very helpful,” Lops said. “Sarah (Jablonsky) was so great off the bench.”
Free throws were key as well.
Trinity Catholic was 18 of 29 from the line but made 9 of 12 from 6:51 to play to 54 seconds as Trinity Catholic led 49-43. Kyah Nowlin (11 points) was 8 of 10 overall on the charity stripe.
Danbury was 11 of 23 from the line. TyLynn Ith had 11 points while Sabrina Almeida added 10 for the Hatters.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Trinity Catholic junior point guard Caitlyn Scott scored 15 points with six assists.
“Caitlyn is the engine that makes us go,” TC coach Walsh said. “She knows when to push the ball. When to get people involved. And when she should score herself.”
For Trinity Catholic (14-3 overall, 12-2 FCIAC), it was its seventh win in the last eight contests. TC took sole possession of the No. 3 FCIAC playoff seed over Danbury (11-3 league) with two regular season games left.
Trinity Catholic is also the No. 6 playoff seed in Class S, which should translate into early home games in the state tournament.
Danbury (13-5, 11-3 FCIAC) has won 13 of its last 15 contests. The Hatters are No. 11 in the Class LL rankings with two regular season games left.
TRINITY CATHOLIC 51, DANBURY 43
DANBURY (13-5, 11-3 FCIAC)
Sabrina Almeida 4 0-0 10 Tanisha Cunningham 3 0-0 6 Susana Almeida 1 2-5 5 TyLynn Ith 3 4-5 11 Chloe Perreault 0 1-4 1 Kianna Perry 2 3-3 7 Tianna Rogers 1 1-6 3. Totals: 14 11-23 43.
TRINITY CATHOLIC (14-3, 12-2 FCIAC)
Iyanna Lops 6 3-6 17 Caitlyn Scott 4 6-11 15 Kyah Nowlin 1 8-10 11 Kiera Fenske 1 0-0 2 Sarah Jablonsky 0 0-0 0 Emma Garner 2 1-2 6. 14 18-29 51.
DANBURY 8 9 12 14—43
TRINITY CATHOLIC 11 13 9 18—51
3-Pointers: D—Sab. Almeida 2, Sus. Almeida, Ith. TC—Lops 2, Scott, Nowlin, Garner. Highlights: TC—Lops 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, scored her 1,000th career point.