Stamford tops Greenwich, 50-45, for Class LL girls basketball crown

Tiana England has had a remarkable four years with the Stamford High School girls basketball team. She put the exclamation point on her storied career when the Black Knights were crowned state champions on Sunday afternoon.

Greenwich senior Caroline Beneville goes up for a shot. — David Whitman photo

Greenwich senior Caroline Beneville goes up for a shot. — David Whitman photo

Sophomore Alexa Kellner scored a game-best 19 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, and England delivered a solid all-around game as Stamford topped the Greenwich Cardinals, 50-45, in the Class LL final at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville.

Both teams were making their first appearances in a state final, and thus the championship is Stamford’s first. Stamford and Greenwich were the only two FCIAC teams to reach the state finals. Last year, the league had two champs: Wilton in Class LL and St. Joseph in Class M.

For 10th-seeded Greenwich (19-5), senior Abbie Wolf finished her great Cardinal career with a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds. She also had two blocks and three assists.

Junior Emily Anderson had 12 points and five rebounds. Senior Caroline Beneville and junior Jayla Faison each scored seven points, with Faison also gaining five rebounds and three assists.

For fourth-seeded Stamford (25-2), England filled the stat sheet, with 10 points, seven assists, six steals, three rebounds and two blocks.

Kellner had seven rebounds to go along with her 19 points; sophomore Andrea O’Conner had eight rebounds; junior Guirand had eight points and five rebounds; and sophomore Brooke Kelly had seven points and four rebounds.

The game was close throughout, although the Knights were in front most of the time. Stamford had leads of 10-5 after one quarter and 20-16 at halftime.

Greenwich senior Abbie Wolf works underneath the basket. — Dave Whitman photo

Greenwich senior Abbie Wolf works underneath the basket. — Dave Whitman photo

Greenwich tied the game, 20-20, on layups by Anderson and Beneville early in the second half, and gained its first lead since early in the first quarter when Wolf made it 28-26 with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter.

England, who scored 10 points, then hit two free throws and a layup to start an 8-1 Stamford run which put it up 34-29.

Greenwich battled back in the fourth quarter, and a three-point play by Wolf tied the score at 34-34.

The Cardinals were just two points down at 40-38 with five minutes to play, when the Knights went on an eight-point run during the next two-plus minutes to put the game away.

After a free throw by O’Conner, Kellner drained a three-pointer and England hit for two. Marthe Guirand then scored on a jumper for a 48-38 lead with 2:18 remaining.

Beneville ended the run with a three-pointer, and Anderson followed with a layup to cut the deficit to 48-43 with 51 seconds to play, but Kellner hit a pair of free throws to make it 50-43.

Faison scored the final points with 21 seconds remaining, but the Cards couldn’t find the mark again as Stamford took the crown.

Stamford, which won the FCIAC title a few weeks ago, ended the season with a 12-game winning streak that included eight consecutive playoff wins. The Cardinals were the last team to beat the Knights, winning 64-55 at Greenwich High School back on Feb. 3.

Greenwich was knocked out of the FCIAC tournament in the first round, but rebounded in the Class LL playoffs, winning four straight before Sunday’s loss. The Cards knocked off three higher seeds along the way, beating No. 7 Southington 56-52, No. 2 Warde 64-46, and No. 3 E.O. Smith 69-60, to reach the final.

Greenwich's Jayla Faison (25) guards against Stamford's Tiana England during the CIAC Class LL final Sunday at Mohegan Sun Arena. — David Whitman photo

Greenwich’s Jayla Faison (25) guards against Stamford’s Tiana England during the CIAC Class LL final Sunday at Mohegan Sun Arena. — David Whitman photo

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