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Saturday, March 17 Sports

Wilton holds off Staples to advance to FCIAC semifinals

WILTON — It was a race against the clock and that was all. The race against the Staples Wreckers was already won.

So when Wilton High’s Caroline Sweeny laid the ball up and in at the buzzer of the Warriors’ 57-53 FCIAC girls basketball quarterfinal victory over Staples, it didn’t change the result.

It just served as an exclamation point.

On Saturday, 39 days after the Wreckers handed Wilton their only home loss of the season, the Warriors exacted revenge, knocking Staples out of the league playoffs while advancing to the semifinals for the first time in three seasons.

“We know it’s the playoffs and we can’t look back, but we remembered that first game with them,” said Sweeny, who was one of four Wilton players in double figures. “We used it as motivation.”

Sweeny and Lauren Robertson led the Warriors with 12 points each while Elizabeth Breslin and Claire Gulbin netted 11 each, making the afternoon hell for the Wreckers defense. Even Emily Tuin, Wilton’s fifth starter, added eight points.

“You want to try to slow down Gulbin as much as possible, but they have other players,” Staples coach Paco Fabian said. “They have five solid players out there.”

Each time the Warriors tried to pull away from the Wreckers, though, they couldn’t, leading up to a thrilling finish.

Sweeny opened the fourth quarter with two foul shots and a 3-pointer, pushing Wilton’s six-point lead to 11 at 43-32.

With 4:56 left to play, the advantage was still 10 at 48-38.

Behind Elle Fair (8 of her game-high 20 points came in the fourth quarter), the Wreckers stormed back to make it sure they had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds.

Fair and Arianna Gerig both drained 3-point shots to cut Wilton’s lead to 54-53 with less than 20 seconds to play.

A Sweeny foul shot made it a two-point game, and both Gerig and Fair had shots to tie it, but couldn’t make it.

“We got a good look, but just couldn’t connect,” Fabian said. “The problem, though, is you can’t go down 10 in the third quarter. I’m proud with how the girls played. They never gave up.”

An outlet pass to Sweeny ended the game and she raced to the opposite end of the court for an exclamation-point bucket.


Wilton’s starting five.

There’s no way to separate that balance, especially given how each player took turns making big plays in big moments.

From Elizabeth Breslin netting seven points in the first quarter to get the Warriors off to a good start to Sweeny netting nine in the fourth quarter, each player shined at different times.

“Hopefully we can frustrate other opponents with that,” Wilton coach Rob Coloney said. “I really think that’s the thing that makes us a good team.”


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Fabian knows how far the Wreckers have come since he took over the program, and a berth in the league tournament is the next step of the rebuilding process.

And moving forward, his team still has the state tournament to look forward to.

While Fair had her outside game on point, draining six 3-pointers, Gerig added 13 points to the winning effort.



STAPLES (14-7)

Arianna Gerig 6 0-1 13, Elle Fair 7 0-0 20, Marissa Shorrock 3 0-0 7, Amanda Troelstra 0 2-2 2, Abigail Carter 1 2-3 5, Marley Lopez-Paul 2 0-0 4, Sophie Smith 1 0-0 2, Kate Rutter 0 0-2 0, Nicole Dienst 0 0-0 0, Totals 20 4-8 53

WILTON (17-4)

Elizabeth Breslin 4 3-6 11, Emily Tuin 3 0-0 8, Lauren Robertsn 5 2-5 12, Caroline Sweeny 3 5-8 12, Claire Gulbin 5 0-0 11, Zoe Rappaport 1 0-0 3, Maddie Burke 0 0-2 0, Totals 21 10-21 57

STAPLES 15 10 7 21—53

WILTON 19 6 13 19—57

3-pointers: S—Fair 6, Shorrock, Gerig; W—Tuin 2, Sweeney, Gulbin, Rappaport.