STAMFORD — It was a great dress rehearsal for the postseason for both sides.
The Trumbull High School girls basketball team made a few more plays down the stretch to earn a hard-fought 43-39 road triumph over Trinity Catholic High School Wednesday night before a packed house at Walsh Court.
The victory allowed Trumbull (15-1 FCIAC) to retain the No. 2 seed for the upcoming FCIAC playoffs. Despite the loss, Trinity Catholic (13-3 FCIAC) will retain the No. 3 playoff seed.
No. 2 Trumbull will meet No. 7 Ridgefield (10-6 league) in Saturday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinal at Ludlowe in Fairfield.
No. 3 Trinity Catholic will battle No. 6 Ludlowe in Saturday’s noon quarterfinal on the Falcons’ home court.
Wednesday’s win was welcomed by Trumbull — No. 5 in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll— in a week where they lost to the state’s and the FCIAC’s No. 1 team Norwalk last Monday. And could not practice due to the snow Tuesday.
“It’s been a tough week already,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said. “But the support we got from our entire group was exactly what the coaching staff wants to see in Game No. 20 of the season.”
It was a contest dominated by the stars and leaders on both sides.
Trumbull received all its points from four players. Trinity Catholic’s entire offense was generated by just three players.
Trinity Catholic led 22-17 at halftime and 28-27 after three quarters.
NO TIME LIKE CRUNCH TIME
In the fourth quarter, Trumbull (18-2 overall, ranked No. 4 in Class LL) showed why it has its sights on a third consecutive FCIAC girls basketball championship.
Trailing 37-33 with 2:35 left, Trumbull freshman Emi Roberto (nine points) drained a 3-pointer and scored inside on a back cut to give the Eagles a 38-37 edge with 1:10 left.
Tied at 38-38, Trumbull grabbed an offensive rebound and called timeout with 35.1 seconds left. An Eagle was fouled away from the ball leading to a timeout with 18.1 to go.
Sophomore Allison Palmieri displayed the poise of a senior. She drove off a pick, scored, was fouled and nailed the free throw for 41-38 at 8.6 seconds. Palmieri (5-for-5 line) added both ends of a one-and-one at 1.6 seconds for the 43-39 final.
“The team has my back. Their support allows me to show my full potential,” said Palmieri, who had a game-high 19 points. “My mindset is whatever I have to do for us to win. I put in the extra work on skills. And crunch time is when that work pays off.”
“I thought Allison was great at both ends of the court,” Trumbull’s Tobitsch said. “Her defense and her rebounding impacted the game as well.”
TAKEAWAYS FOR TRINITY CATHOLIC
The Crusaders lost on Senior Night.
But received solid effort from Iyanna Lops (17 points, five blocks, 12 rebounds), point guard Caitlyn Scott (15 points) and senior Kyah Nowlin (seven points, solid defense).
Trinity Catholic’s downfall came at the charity stripe. It was 9 of 16 from the line compared to 10 of 13 for Trumbull.
Trinity was 7 of 14 from the line over the final 5:12.
“The good news was we showed grit. We showed effort,” Trinity Catholic coach Mike Walsh said. “We found some things we can clean up. Little things you can always fix.”
TRUMBULL 43, TRINITY CATHOLIC 39
TRUMBULL (18-2, 15-1 FCIAC)
Krystina Schueler 1 5-8 8 Meghan Lesko 3 0-0 7 Emi Roberto 4 0-0 9 Allison Palmieri 7 5-5 19 Kelly O’Leary 0 0-0 0 Sarah Stolze 0 0-0 0 Maeve Hampford 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 10-13 43.
TRINITY CATHOLIC (15-4, 13-3 FCIAC)
Caitlyn Scott 6 2-8 15 Iyanna Lops 6 4-4 17 Kyah Nowlin 2 3-4 7 Kiera Fenske 0 0-0 0 Emma Garner 0 0-0 0 Sarah Jablonsky 0 0-0 0 Caitlyn Kilcoyne 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 9-16 39.
TRUMBULL 13 4 10 16—43
TRINITY CATHOLIC 9 13 6 11—39
3-Pointers: Trum—Schueler, Lesko, Roberto. TC—Scott, Lops.