GIRLS BASKETBALL Trinity overcomes Ludlowe
FAIRFIELD — It was a statement game.
Both Trinity Catholic High School and Ludlowe High girls basketball teams entered having won six of their last seven contests.
The outcome would have an effect on FCIAC playoff seeding down the line.
And after 32 minutes of grit, physicality, hustle and owning the moment, Trinity Catholic came away with a hard-fought 51-44 road triumph Tuesday night at Ludlowe’s gym.
The win pushed Trinity Catholic to 10-2 overall, 8-2 in the FCIAC East Division and 5-1 under interim Hall of Fame coach Mike Walsh.
“It was a rugged contest. Give Ludlowe credit. They play so hard,” Walsh said. “But I like the way we play hard. Tonight, we didn’t back down.”
Both sides overcame obstacles during the 32-minute tug of war.
Ludlowe (8-4, 5-4 FCIAC) saw its leading scorer, senior tri-captain Bridget Paulmann, sit out most of the first half due to foul trouble.
Sophomore guard Juliet Bucher suffered a right ankle injury late in the first period and did not return. She did cheer her Falcon teammates on while keeping her foot raised on the sideline.
The losses did not stop Ludlowe’s shorter lineup from holding Trinity Catholic’s leading scorer, senior center Iyanna Lops (seven points), scoreless in the second half.
Bridget Paulmann scored all of her team-high 18 points in the second half, including five 3-pointers.
“Bridget is a great leader,” said Ludlowe coach Sarah Kinsley. “Tonight was a tribute to how hard we all work. Our defensive intensity kept us in the game. We had good looks but shots didn’t drop on offense.”
ALL ABOUT CRUNCH TIME
Ludlowe took only its second lead of the night, 38-37 with 5:02 left on a Bridget Paulmann free throw.
Trinity Catholic responded as point guard Caitylyn Scott drove to the hoop for 39-38. That forced Ludlowe to call timeout with 4:04 to go. Trinity Catholic extended the break with its own timeout.
“We talked about spreading the floor on offense,” Walsh said. “We knew Ludlowe would try to stop Caitlyn (Scott) on drives and Iyanna (Lops) inside. We had to find another way to score.”
That is when junior forward Kiera Fenske took over center stage.
Scott (game-high 23 points) penetrated on the next two possessions and kicked the ball out to Fenske on the left wing.
A long two-pointer and a 3-pointer by Fenske gave Trinity a 44-38 edge. She added two free throws at 18.7 seconds for seven of her nine points.
More importantly, Fenske chased Bridget Paulmann all over the court at the other end. Paulmann was scoreless over the final 5:02 until a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“My No. 1 job was to stop No. 15 (Paulmann),” Fenske said. “The key was we all came together and played together in the last five minutes.”
“Kiera’s two jumpers were the biggest shots of the game,” Walsh said.
As for Lops, she impacted the outcome at the defensive end. She amassed 12 blocks and 12 rebounds.
“Lops is a great player,” Ludlowe coach Kinsley said. “We knew she’d be a big threat. (Ludlowe senior tri-captain) Paige O’Connell fought Lops so hard on defense.”
TRINITY CATHOLIC 51, LUDLOWE 44
TRINITY CATHOLIC (10-2, 8-2 FCIAC)
Iyanna Lops 2 2-2 7 Caitlyn Scott 10 2-5 23 Kyah Nowlin 2 2-4 6 Kiera Fenske 3 2-3 9 Emma Garner 2 0-0 4 Sarah Jablonsky 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 8-14 51.
LUDLOWE (8-4, 5-4 FCIAC)
Bridget Paulmann 6 1-2 18 Paige O’Connell 1 0-0 2 Ira Boci 0 0-0 0 Trish Carey 1 0-0 2 Juliet Bucher 1 0-0 2 Emma Torello 3 0-2 7 Laura Herron 2 2-2 6 Anna Paulmann 2 3-5 7. Totals: 16 6-11 44.
TRINITY CATHOLIC 9 12 14 16—51
LUDLOWE 5 12 12 15—44
3-Pointers: TC—Lops, Scott, Fenske. L—B. Paulmann 5, Torello.