Greenwich to face Stamford for Class LL girls basketball title

It will be an All-FCIAC battle for the Class LL girls basketball championship as both the Stamford Black Knights and Greenwich Cardinals advanced to the title game with semifinal wins on Friday.

The fourth-seeded Knights knocked off the No. 8 South Windsor Bobcats, 66-57, at Kennedy High School, while 10th-seeded Greenwich topped the No. 3 E.O. Smith Panthers, 69-60, at Sheehan High School.

Both teams will be making their first appearances in the state finals, which will be held March 19 or 20 at Mohegan Sun. The tip-off time has yet to be announced.

Tiana England and Abbie Wolf, two senior stars who are finishing out their careers in style, led their teams in the semifinals. England racked up 25 points and was 6-of-8 from the free throw line for Stamford, while Wolf had a double-double for Greenwich, scoring 19 points and reeling in 19 rebounds.

“I have always wanted to get this and get to Mohegan,” Wolf told Paul Silverfarb of the Greenwich Sentinel. “I knew that we didn’t have a banner, but getting (to the finals) is a great feeling. Playing in the semifinals is a great feeling, but all I want now is a championship. That’s when we can all let is go and celebrate. We are all very excited, but have to stay focused, not only getting there, but finishing it.”

“It’s amazing. It’s unreal,” England told Scott Ericson of the Stamford Advocate. “This is what we have been waiting for, what we’ve been preparing for and we are so excited. Oh, my gosh loss of words.”

Stamford and Greenwich squared off once during the regular season, with the Cards winning, 64-55, at GHS.

Greenwich is 19-4 this season and was knocked out of the FCIAC tournament early, but has beaten three higher seeds on its Run to the Sun. The Cards topped No. 30 Cheshire 74-55 in the opening round, and then beat No. 7 Southington 56-52, No. 2 Warde 64-46, and now No. 3 E.O. Smith.

Greenwich grabbed a 20-16 lead on E.O. Smith in the first quarter, but really opened things up with a 22-6 second frame to make it 42-22.

The Panthers responded with a 19-5 run through the third quarter, closing the gap to 47-41, and got as close as four points with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

Greenwich, however, answered the bell, as junior Jayla Faison hit two free throws, junior Emily Anderson sank one-of-two, and senior Caroline Beneville scored on a lay-up for a 64-55 lead, which essentially out the victory in the books.

Beneville had a big night for the Cards, scoring 17 points, including nine on three 3-point buckets.

Faison scored 16 points and was deadly from the free throw line, sinking 9-of-11 shots, while Anderson had 11 points.

For E.O. Smith, McKenna Dale scored a game-high 26 points, and Kayleigh Dale scored 11.

Stamford is 24-2 and is in the midst of a tremendous postseason run, having won seven straight games. The FCIAC champs have knocked off No. 29 Ledyard 66-36, No. 13 Ridgefield 65-32, No. 5 NFA 74-60, and No. 8 South Windsor en route to the final.

The Knights led throughout their game against the Bobcats, building leads of 13-7 after one quarter and 35-23 at halftime. South Windsor cut the deficit by three points during the third quarter, but the Knights still led 50-41 and went on to claim the win.

Four Stamford players scored in double digits. In addition to England’s 25, Stamford had 12 points from sophomore Alexa Kellner, 11 from sophomore Andrea O’Conner, and 10 from junior Marthe Guirand.

Senior Molly Murphy had a tremendous game for the Bobcats (21-3), netting 30 points in her final contest for South Windsor.


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