WILTON, Conn. – Wilton’s 42-40 girls basketball victory over Ridgefield on Thursday may be the catalyst toward a big season that the Warriors have been looking for.
Sophomores Erin Cunningham and Erica Meyer combined for 25 points and and 27 rebounds as the Warriors (4-2) held on to defeat the Tigers (3-2) in a battle between two teams expected to make some noise in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference this winter.
“I hope that’s the way we play from here on out,’’ said assistant coach Dan Aspinwall, who was filling in for head coach Jaclyn Porco. “That was the most intensity I’ve seen on the court. We seemed pretty focused the whole game.”
The Warriors, who finished 15-8 last season, came into this year with lofty goals. After a season-opening 55-42 loss to Darien, Wilton won a pair before losing again to Westhill, 48-35. The Warriors have now won two straight and four of their last five.
“I think we lost some significant seniors from last year,’’ Aspinwall said. “Even if they weren’t stars on the team, they had been here and were good leaders for us. Casey Pearsall has stepped up and been a leader for us, and Alyssa Malvarossa, our other senior, has helped. We’ve had a lot of games already where we haven’t had a full squad. We’re getting healthier, and that will help.”
Pearsall had six points and four assists for the Warriors, but the backbone of the team is underclassmen. Meyer and Cunningham played a lot last year, as did classmates Hayley English and Cori Cannavino. Freshman Karen Brosko, who had five points against Ridgefield, has joined the rotation.
“Sometimes we forget we’re a team of two seniors and underclassmen,’’ Aspinwell said. “But we don’t play like that.”
Brosko and Cunningham had some of the biggest baskets against Ridgefield. Ridgefield rallied from a 19-12 deficit to tie the game at 22 midway through the third quarter. Brosko’s three-pointer gave Wilton the lead for good.
Later in the quarter, Wilton led 27-24 before Cunningham hit two jumpers and swished a three-pointer with a second remaining to give Wilton a 34-25 lead entering the fourth. Meyer (team-high 13 points) scored six of Wilton’s eight points in the final quarter.
Wilton dominated the backboards against Ridgefield, and it will be one of the team’s strengths all season. Meyer, a 6-3 center, is averaging 10.8 rebounds a game. Cunningham, Pearsall and Malvarossa are all over six rebounds per game.
“Coach Porco will tell you our team is all about defense, rebounding and aggressiveness,’’ Aspinwall said. “This game was exactly what we’re supposed to be. When we get some shots to fall, we’ll be even better.”
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