Girls Basketball

Staples Opens State Tournament With Impressive Win

Nicole Holmes sets up a play for Staples. (Photo: Jess Leon)

After a heartbreaking loss, a team will try to use it as fuel to bounce back even stronger.

The Staples girls basketball team tonight did just that.

With a dominating performance in a 58-34 win over 32nd-seeded Kennedy, No. 1 Staples proved its strength and resilience in the first round of the Class LL tournament.

The win came four days after a double overtime loss to Ridgefield in the FCIAC championship. 

“I told (coach) Paco (Fabian) this morning that we never lose, we learn,” the Wreckers’ Nicole Holmes said. “We needed (the loss) because states is going to be 10 times tougher, but now we have the fire to get further.”

Marley Lopez-Paul scores inside for the Wreckers. (Jess Leon)

The Wreckers started the game with 18 unanswered points, including two 3-pointers, and four steals before the Eagles finally got on the scoreboard with just 2:38 left in the first quarter. With a 37-15 advantage at the break, Staples’ lead never dipped below 20 for the entire second half.

“This game we knew was going to be easier than the rest,” Staples senior captain Marisa Shorrock said, “so we mostly just wanted to stay focused, have fun and get ready for the tournament.”

The game also provided the perfect opportunity for every Staples player off the bench to rack up valuable minutes in a state tournament matchup. All of Staples’ starters were subbed out late in the first quarter, only coming back in sporadically through the game and to begin the second half.

“The gameplan was to keep the ball moving and get everyone involved,” Staples guard Sydelle Bernstein said. “Our coach wanted everyone to score and everyone to get a chance to get into the game.”

The Wreckers’ Sydelle Bernstein looks for an open teammate. (Jess Leon)

Off the bench, Alva Nordin scored nine points for Staples and Lexie Moskovit added eight. Starter Marley Lopez-Paul led the Wreckers in scoring with 10 points. 

“I think we got a lot of girls a share of the ball today,” Fabian said. “A lot of girls scored … and today was a good day to build confidence for the next round.”

Confidence and teamwork will be an important part of the Wreckers’ state tournament journey. Especially after the loss in the FCIAC finals, the team is working to foster team chemistry as it looks to continue its success down the line.

Mia Didio leads the Wreckers on a fastbreak. (Jess Leon)

“We just need to stay confident and believe in our abilities to be one of the best teams in the state,” Shorrock said. “We really just need to stay together as a family, trust each other on the court and have fun.”

In the second round, Staples will face 16th-seeded Wilbur Cross, which beat 17th-seeded Manchester by 14, at home on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The Wreckers have their sights set on reaching, and winning, the state championship tapping all of their attributes.

“We’re just going to keep working every day, that’s all we can do,” Holmes said. “We will not take our eyes off the prize and we will get there, no doubt in my mind.”