UNCASVILLE — With her team trailing by eight points after one quarter, Trinity Catholic senior Iyanna Lops gave herself a mandate.
It was time to assert herself.
“We were down but I was like we’ve got to turn it up so whenever I got the ball I knew I had to take control, which I did.”
With an exclamation point. Lops scored eight straight points to start the second quarter. She finished with 17 in the period to give the Crusaders a 33-22 lead.
Trinity (22-5) survived some late turnovers but was never seriously threatened in winning its first Class S title since 2006 with a 52-45 decision over top-seeded Canton.
“It’s amazing. My freshman year I never believed I’d get to where I am today,” said Lops, who transferred to Trinity from Westhill two years ago.
Lops finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks in a tour de force performance.
“I’m soaking it in,” Lops said. “As a senior I am going away to California to college so I did what I had to do.”
Lops, who has a varied sneaker collection, wore the pair she refers to as her Lucky Charms. She had them on when she scored her 1,000th point and her career-high game with 33 points.
“We came out today and shook the cobwebs off early and once we hit a couple of shots we settled down. She led the way in the second quarter,” Trinity coach Mike Walsh said of Lops. “We made good decisions most of the time. All six that I used contributed something to tonight’s win.”
Point guard Caitlyn Scott added 12 points and six assists for the seventh-seeded Crusaders.
Walsh was emotional after the game as he held up the championship trophy. Walsh won seven state and six conference titles with the school’s boys team before retiring after 39 years last summer.
Walsh stayed on as a boys assistant until Mike Martino unexpectedly resigned as the girls coach. Walsh was asked by the school to take over on an interim basis and agreed.
“I’m so happy for these girls,” Walsh said. “Really, it’s important for them. They work hard, they’ve had some rough times and I’m just happy for them, I really am. I’m glad I came back and had the opportunity to coach them.”
Walsh’s daughter, Ali, one of his assistants, said that her father appeared more nervous for today’s game than any of his previous finals.
“I scouted more than I probably did for the girls game,” Walsh said. “We had eight days to prepare and you finally run out of things you have to do but yeah. Not nervous, anticipating. I wanted to get the game going. I wanted to play.”
Kyah Nowlin added eight points for Trinity, which out-rebounded Canton, 36-29, and made 14 of 17 free throws.
Abigail Charron scored 15 points and Paige Brown added 10 for Canton (23-2).
Trinity had a 44-33 lead after three quarters but then turned the ball over eight times. Canton got within five, but Lops converted a long outlet pass by Scott into a layup with 26 seconds left.
“We got better feeds, kept the tempo high and got high energy,” Lops said of the turnaround.
Lops credited Walsh with giving the team needed direction.
“Basically him knowing what he’s talking about and his history with basketball, it helped a lot,” Lops said.
Asked to rank this title to his other ones, Walsh smiled.
“It’s No. 1 on the girls list,” he said. “At my age, and I thought I was retired, to come back to win a state championship, it’s right up there. They’re all great.”