WILTON, Conn. – Wilton High School senior Alyssa Malvarosa was filled with joy after the Warriors defeated Danbury, 50-30, in Thursday’s girls basketball game. Malvarosa and Casey Pearsall, the team’s lone seniors, were honored before the game.
Then, they went out and combined for 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 steals as Wilton won its 15th straight game.
The victory all but secured the top seed for Wilton for the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament. If the Warriors beat a two-win Bassick team Friday, they will earn the No. 1 seed for the first time in school history. If Wilton wins Friday, it will play Ridgefield in its league tournament opener Saturday.
“It’s amazing,’’ Malvarosa said. “Our coaches are awesome, this team just works so well together. We’re so excited.”
Wilton’s only previous league championship came in the 1988-89 season, when Kristine Lilly and Liz Clifford earned first-team all-league honors. Wilton defeated Danbury in the championship game, 53-49, when Clifford and Lilly combined for 29 points.
Malvarosa and Pearsall have been linchpins in a steady upward tick for the program since they joined the team four years ago. The Warriors finished 7-13 that year, which was also the first year for coach Jaclyn Porco. They qualified for the state tournament for the first time in six years and went 12-10 the following season, then went 15-8 last year.
The momentum has carried over. After starting 2-2, including losses to Darien and Westhill, the Warriors have been unbeatable. Their last loss was a 48-35 decision to Westhill on Dec. 12. They have handled everybody else, including double-digit wins over playoff teams Stamford, Trumbull and Danbury.
Pearsall (11.5 points per game) and Malvarosa (6.4) have been instrumental in Wilton’s success. The team’s rise has also been fueled by a brilliant sophomore class that includes starters Erica Meyer, Haley English and Erin Cunningham. Classmates Sara Dickinson, Cori Cannavino and Makenna Pearsall were also part of a team that went 23-2 as eighth-graders and steamrolled to the Fairfield County Basketball League tournament title. Both losses for that team were by one point.
“It took us a little bit to get used to playing with them,’’ Malvarosa said. “But once we started knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, it all clicked.”
In Thursday’s game, seniors Pearsall and Malvarosa provided the steadying influence when Danbury tried to make a run midway through the game. They combined for 17 of Wilton’s 24 points in the second half.
“When you saw Danbury start to come back is when we had one or two girls trying to do too much,’’ Porco said. “They were getting excited, the nerves, getting worried. The seniors pulled them back. That’s what seniors do. They’re great leaders.”
Banners of all kinds for various sports grace the walls inside Zeoli Fieldhouse, where Wilton plays its home games. Maybe this year’s girls basketball team can add to that collection. “That,’’ Porco said, “would be wonderful.”
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