TRUMBULL — The Trumbull girls basketball team was coming off a surprising home loss to New Canaan last week and wanted to make a statement this week.
The result tonight was heard loud and clear from New London to Greenwich: Trumbull 70, Norwalk 37.
Trumbull handled Norwalk, the defending FCIAC and Class LL champion, not to mention the third-ranked team in the state, in every facet of the game while rolling to its 11th win of the season.
“After last week’s loss at home against New Canaan, and all the credit to New Canaan, but we said we had to climb back up and gain some respect and I think we did that tonight,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said. “We’ve got a target on our back again, but we’re used to that.”
Cassi Barbato scored 12 of her game-high 20 points in the first quarter as the Eagles raced out to a 24-12 lead.
“It was definitely important to get off to a good start,” said Barbato. “We shared the ball well. We matched their intensity and we played defense really hard the whole game. (The scoreboard) really says nothing, though. Anybody can beat anybody by any score.”
An 8-0 run by Norwalk to open the second quarter — sparked by six Carsyn Langhorn points — cut the lead to four at 24-20, but the Eagles scored the next 11 points to rebuild a 35-23 halftime advantage.
A 24-3 run over the latter half of the third quarter and early portion of the fourth blew the game open.
“We got our butts kicked,” first-year Norwalk coach Evan Kelley said. “It was just a lack of focus from the time we stepped off the bus and walked into the building. Credit Trumbull. They were prepared, they’re well-coached, they were locked into their game plan and did what they were supposed to do. We didn’t do anything we were supposed to do.”
Emma Gentry added 13 points to the winning effort for Trumbull while Emi Roberto chipped in with 10 and Sarah Stolze had nine.
Ten of the 11 players who dressed for the Eagles scored and Trumbull sank eight 3-point shots.
As good and balanced as Trumbull’s offense was, though, it was defense that was the Eagles’ strength as they forced Norwalk into a bad shooting night.
“I thought we stayed disciplined on defense and really limited them to one shot per possession,” Tobitsch said.
Langhorn led Norwalk with 11 points while Jakara Murray-Leach had nine.
Barbato got started early for Trumbull, draining a 3-point shot and later added a 15-footer from the wing to give the Eagles an early 7-5 lead.
She was fouled on a runner later in the quarter, made the basket and the foul shot and followed that up with a layup to put the Eagles up, 15-7.
“The gameplan was to take her out of it,” Kelley said. “Once you let a good player like that get into a rhythm at home, it’s going to be a long night. We let her get into that rhythm and they took it to us.”
Norwalk, which had a four-game win streak snapped, fell to 10-3.
“I’m glad it happened now and not in the playoffs,” Kelley said. “We’re still looking at the long game. I still believe in this team. We still have high expectations for them and it all starts again tomorrow at practice.”
The Bears are in a tough stretch as they have road games at Ridgefield (9-4) on Monday and at Danbury (10-3) next Thursday.
Trumbull will host Trinity Catholic on Monday at 5:45 p.m.